3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– For the information of honorable senators, I have to announce the receipt of the following cablegram, dated 21st March,1908, from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Governor-General -
My telegram of 2nd March and your telegram of 21st March, please inform your Ministers United States Government gladly accept invitation for visit of Fleet, and highly appreciate friendly courtesy on the part of Commonwealth.
– I have to announce for the information of honorable senators, that on the 18th March the following cablegram, dated at Ottawa on the 17th March, was received by the GovernorGeneral from the Governor-General of Canada-
Responsible Ministers request me to forward invitation to your Prime Minister to come to Quebec and be their guest during celebration, at which His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales will be present, during week 22nd July to 29th July. It is sincerely hoped that Prime Minister will be able to attend personally, but if that impossible he will in any case send representative.
Thereupon the Prime Minister caused a cablegram to be sent toLord Dudley asking if he could see his way to represent Australia at the great function referred to, and the following reply has been received -
Your telegram of 19th March, Lord Dudley desires me to thank you for your kindness, and to ask you to inform your Minister he will esteem it a great honour and privilege to represent Australia at the Quebec Celebrations in July.
On the receipt of that reply, the following cablegram was sent to the Governor- General of Canada -
Government highly appreciate invitation of the Canadian Ministers, and have therefore invited the Earl of Dudley, Governor-General-elect of the Commonwealth, to represent Australia at celebrations. Prime Minister regrets that parliamentary session precludes the possibility of the attendance of any Minister with Earl Dudley.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, what steps, if any, do the Government propose to take to. recoup to Senator Vardon and the Hon. J. V. O’Loghlin the unusual expenses to which they were put - owing to official bungling - in connexion with the Senate election for South Australia?
– The matter is under consideration, and probably some provision will be made on the Additional Estimates.
– At this stage I cannot give a direct answer to my . honorable friend. The South Australian measure to give effect to the agreement has been reserved for the signification of the Royal assent; but no information has yet been received as to the cause of the delayin giving such assent. The Bill to which my honorable friend has referred will be introduced in this Parliament as soon as the state of public business will permit. There is no reason why I should be vague at this stage, but the fact is that it is simply impossible to say how long the session is going to last ; that is contingent upon several considerations.
– May I ask my honorable friend whether it is the intention of the Government to delay the introduction of the measure in this Parliament until the Royal assent has been given to the South Australian Bill ?
– That is so. Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON. - Surely not?
– So far as my information goes, that is so; but if my honorable friend will give notice of the question I shall get definite information.
– I shall bring the subject under my honorable friend’s notice on another day.
Senator BEST laid upon the table the following paper : -
Copy of further despatch, dated 19th November, 1907, relating to the organization of the Colonial ‘ Office.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
Yes. No reply has yet been sent. One is in course of preparation.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In view of the statement made by Mr. McLeod, President of the A.N. A. of Western Australia, to the effect “ that large numbers mi young Chinese- could be seen in different parts of the State who must have come into the Commonwealth since the passing of the Immigration Restriction Act,” will the Government take into consideration the advisableness of instituting a system of registration of Asiatics, as . recently adopted. by the Government of the Colony of the Transvaal ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
Inquiries are now being made into Mr. McLeod ‘s statements. When these are complete the matter will be further considered.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
If it is the intention of the Government daring the present session to bring in a Bill to deal with the question of old-age pensions; if not, when is it intended to do so?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows-
It .is quite impossible at this stage to directly answer this question, but practical financial proposals will be submitted probably within the-, next month, which will include a concrete proposition for -old-age pensions.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to. thehonorable senator’s questions are as follow -
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 20th March, vide page 9387) : Schedule.
Division X. - Wood, Wicker, and Cane.
Item 303. Timber, viz. : -
– This might be a convenient timeto draw the attention of honorable senators to a request which I have circulated. I do> not propose to argue the matter now, but it has a bearing upon paragraphs a and b. If we pass them now in their present form without any reference being made to the request which I propose to move later in the schedule, we shall be, perhaps justly, open to a charge of allowing the item to pass while having something up our sleeve. My proposal is to ask the Committee at the end pf this division to agree to a request for the insertion of another division on similar lines to division VIa. I should like you, Mr. Chairman, to state whether, if these duties are passed in the form in which they now stand, I shall be in order at the end of the division in moving for the addition of that new division.
– Seeing that we do not really amend the Bill, but make requests to another place to amend it, it will be perhaps more convenient if we deal with a request such as the honorable senator indicates on the item particularly affected, and not wait until we reach the end of this division. It would be more convenient to the Committee and appropriate to the item now before us if the request were moved on paragraph a or b as a request to the House of Representatives to insert new division Xa.
– I appreciate the propriety of Senator Chataway giving full notice to the Committee of his intention with regard to paragraphs a and b. Possibly it might be desirable that the proposed request should be discussed if necessary in connexion with those two paragraphs.’ But I would point out the principle which has already been laid down in dealing with this Bill. In regard to metals and machinery, we dealt first with tall the items of division VI., and then took division VIa.
– Does division VI. include the items which are covered by VIa. ?
– -They are not enumerated in division VI., but, of course, they are free until the proclamation issues. They all relate to metals and machinery. Of course, the question is only a matter of form, and I shall not press my view, but having regard to the principle previously followed, and as it would be the cleaner way of doing things, I think we should finish division X. before we deal with a request to insert new division Xa. If that is not done, Senator Chataway may find it necessary to split up his request and propose a special stipulation with regard to paragraph a, and another with regard to paragraph b.
– Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council state whether the duty of 6d. per 100 super feet is a protective or revenue duty?
– The point of procedure had better be settled before the item is discussed. Nothwithstanding w’hat the Minister has said, I think that no inconvenience would arise from following the course which I have suggested, whilst some inconvenience would certainly be caused if the Committee -proceeded to deal with these paragraphs with some unknown proposal hanging over their beads. If we make the request to the House of Representatives, they should find no difficulty in putting the new division into its proper place at the end of this division. The request relates to the body of the item. I think it is better that while the body of the item is before the Committee a request for its amendment should be moved if that be thought desirable.
– Before Senator Chataway submits his request, I should like to point out that I intend to submit a request for the insertion of the words “ or red beech “ in paragraph b, after the words “New Zealand white pine.” I should like to know whether if Senator Chataway moves his request now, at would prevent me submitting the request which I desire to move.
– Senator Chataway will require to move his request separately as applying to paragraphs a and b.
– If that be so, I have no objection., because it would then apply to paragraph b in the amended form in which I think it should read.
– I think that Senator Chataway’s request as applying to the whole item may be received on paragraph a.
– It might help Senator McGregor if it were agreed that I should move a request for the insertion of the words “subject to division Xa” after paragraph a, and subsequently at the end. of paragraph b. The Committee could afterwards decide what should be the terms of division Xa, as there might be some difference of opinion as to the duties which should be imposed subject to division Xa.
– I think it would be better to take Senator Chataway’s request as one request applicable to the whole item.
– Some timbers might be introduced which honorable senators might not desire to bring under the proviso.
– That could be met by amending Senator Chataway’s request when it is submitted.
– Would it not be better to limit Senator Chataway’s proposed request in the first instance to paragraph a. There might be amendments to be proposed upon that quite independently of what is contained in paragraph b.
– I have no objection, if it is the wish of honorable senators to adopt that course, but I, personally, see no objection to receiving Senator Chataway’s request on paragraph a. .
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [2.54]. - Before Senator Chataway moves his request, I think that Senator Story has asked a question which deserves an answer. He wishes to know whether the duty attached to paragraph a is considered by the Government to be a revenue duty. Senator Chataway’s proposed request would seem. to assume that it is purely a revenue duty, because it contemplates an increase of the duty at a time when a proclamation might issue that similar timber to that contained in paragraph a could be produced in the Commonwealth in sufficient quantities to supply the demand of local industry. The other assumption is that at the present time there is no suitable timber locally produced answering the requirements of the trade in respect of timber comprised in paragraph a. It would, therefore, be instructive, as well as useful to the Committee, to know from the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether this duty is considered a revenue or a protective duty.
– We have no difficulty in regarding it as a protective duty. It is certainly an encouraging duty. When the local development has reached the stage provided for in Senator Chataway’s proposed request will be the proper time to introduce increased protection.
– Is there any soft timber of this character grown, or to be grown in the future, in the Commonwealth ?
– We have supplies of such timber, but they are not opened up yet.
– I desire to move a request that the paragraph be free.
– Before I can receive such a request, we must dispose of the request suggested by Senator Chataway, as the honorable senator proposes an amendment which, if made at all, must be made in the body of the item. If we deal with the duties, we cannot go back to the body of the item.
– Senator Chataway’s proposal is not to provide an alternative but a supplemental scheme, and I think it is likely to lead to a good deal of inconvenience if it is considered before we have dealt with the item. I think it would be better to take the item as it stands, and consider Senator Chataway’s proposed request at the conclusion of the whole division.
– I have said that Senator Chataway’s request involves an intirely new departure. We have, not dealt with- a similar request before, and as it now seems to be the wish of the Committee, I propose to take the paragraphs of the item first, and then the Committee can consider Senator Chataway’s proposal.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 303, paragraph a, free.
Oregon is practically the only kind of timber that’ would be affected by the duty, in view of the stipulation as to sizes, and as it is a timber which will probably never be grown- in Australia, this must be regarded as a purely revenue duty. In addition tothis, there is no timber, local or imported, that is so useful as Oregon timber for the purposes for which it is chiefly employed. In most of the States, and certainly in South Australia, the bulk of the timber used in the construction of almost every building is Oregon timber. In the mines of most of the States at any rate it is the timber that is universally used. No other timber is so suitable on account of its strength and its lightness.
– And its cheapness.
– And also on account of its safety.
– Undoubtedly ; it is a characteristic of Oregon that it always gives warning some considerable time before breaking. In that respect it differs from many other timbers which might otherwise be substituted for it for mining purposes. In the case of some mines, the duty might make just the difference between the reduction of workmen’s wages or the cessa>tion of working in the case of some low- grade mines, and the continuance of work under present conditions. It is undoubtedly a fact that in many cases there is a very small margin between working at a payable rate and giving up work altogether. I do not think that I need labour the question. It appears to me that there are sufficient reasons why the item ought to be made free. If there was a possibility of any Australian timber being used for similar purposes, I should be inclined to move rather for an increase in the duty.
.- - I desire to point out that we have in Tasmania timber .which is eminently fitted for mining .purposes, and which this item might be shown- to affect. I have received a letter from saw-mill owners at Duck River, Tasmania, in which they say that- fully one-third of the importations in pines could be used in our own hardwoods for flooring, lining, weatherboards, and mining purposes. The hardwood flooring is being now largely used by the Victorian Railway Department and Public Works Department, and is very highly spoken of.
The great want of our saw-millers in Tasmania is more capital. A good deal of their hardwood would be very much more used if it were properly seasoned before being placed on the market. If we could give a protective duty of 6d. per 100 feet super., these saw-millers think they would be benefited. What Senator Chataway has foreshadowed, would be a fair thing to do. It would enable many of the Tasmanian saw-millers to obtain increased capital for the production of a timber which, undoubtedly, could be used for many of the purposes for which Oregon is now employed. Their great difficulty is in reference to getting their timbers properlyseasoned, and’, as I have explained, they have not yet had an opportunity of doing all that could be done in that respect through want of capital. It is further stated in this letter that -
The cost of preparing our timbers in seasoning, racking, handling, and keeping on hand for at least twelve months, is more than the majority of bush saw-millers can finance, seeing that the margin of profit is very small indeed. Though the article supplied has fully three times the life of pine boards, it has to be supplied at a less price.
As it is clear that Tasmanian hardwoods can be used for flooring boards and similar purposes, we ought to give a little recognition to the struggling saw-millers in that State.
– It is not used for flooring, but for joists.
– Is the honorable senator asking for an increased duty for the benefit of Tasmanian timber ?
– No, I am not ; but I am pointing out the facts of the case. I shall vote for Senator Chataway’s request, when he. moves it, in preference to any other.
.- I sincerely hope the Committee will not take the step that Senator Story has asked us to take in moving this request. The honorable senator has pointed out that Oregon is a very suitable timber for use in mines. I understand that there are one or two reasons which commend it to some proprietors of mines. One is, that it is light, and, unlike many other timbers that might be used in connexion with mines, and that are used in other parts of the Commonwealth, it gives adequate warning of any breakage, so that the men are enabled to get out of the workings before the timber gives way, and the earthwork comes down. Another reason why it is used is that it is much lighter. Oregon has a lower specific gravity than any of our Australian hardwoods have. Consequently, the cost of haulage is much” lower, as is also the railway freight.. I understand, however, that though Oregon possesses features which make for safety, it is much more inflammable than are Australian hardwoods. In that respect it is inferior. But Oregon is not used at all in some of the mines in the Commonwealth.
– Only at Broken Hill and Cobar.
– It is used mainly at those mines. But the step which Senator Story asks the Committee to take is to request to make free absolutely all timber undressed, n.e.i. Certain figures are given in the last column of the schedule circulated amongst honorable senators, which go to show that, in 1906, 65,000,000 feet super, of New Zealand pine were imported under this heading. Of course, that timber goes out of consideration just now, because New Zealand pine has been put in a special paragraph by itself. But in the same year we imported 51,500,500 feet super, of Oregon; and of other timber 4,966,763 feet super. Although these returns show that 51,000,000 feet super of Oregon were imported into the Commonwealth in 1906, it does not necessarily follow that the whole of that timber was used for the particular purpose that is motiving and underlying the honorable senator’s action.
– Only 22,200,000 feet went into South Australia.
– A great deal of that Oregon went into competition, unfairly, with the produce of our own forests, and has been utilized extensively by builders throughout the Commonwealth.
– Why ?
– Because it is easier to work.
– But they are paying more for it.
– Not necessarily.
– But they are, as a matter of fact.
– There is, unfortunately, a disposition on the part of many people to specify imported timbers rather than timber grown in the Commonwealth.
– Oh !
– I have had personal experience of that tendency. I know it. I know of men who had been satisfied that timbers produced in the Commonwealth could be used just as economically, and with just as much advantage structurally, as imported timbers ; and yet year after year they have perpetuated the tradition of specifying imported timbers in regard to works coming under their control.
– Although they had to pay a higher price for the imported timbers.
– I am assured that Australian timber can be used just, as economically and with just as great structural advantage as many of the imported timbers. I hope, therefore, that honorable senators will not consent to a request which would have the effect of freeing the importation of these timbers for all mining works.
– He does not limit it to that.
– That was the purport of his whole argument:
– Not at all. Senator KEATING. - The whole of his argument was confined to the necessity of this timber being used in mines.
– No, he specially referred to its use as joists in buildings.
– He only mentioned that :by way of interjection.
– He also mentioned f-hat it was used for rafters.
– I hope that honorable senators will not be so minded as to make a request of so sweeping a character, because this is a most comprehensive item, dealing with all timbers except New Zealand pine. If, however, the Committee is bent upon Oregon- being introduced at a lower rate for mining purposes, it ought to take that action directly and specifically ; but it should not sweep away the protection on timbers generally speaking, except those which are specified in the division.
– On the ground of justice I find myself unable to vote for the request. I desire, if I can, to gauge the feeling of the Committee in regard to slightly raising the duty. Here we are met with a very difficult question, on which, I think, it is simply impossible for honorable senators to be consistent. If they are going to apply, as we have bean applying for the last six or eight weeks, a protectionist policy to the people of Australia-
– The honorable senator has not’ assisted us much.
– I have assisted on some occasions to apply a protectionist policy, but not to impose unduly heavy duties. When I voted in relation to the mining machinery, I did not want’ to give low protection to engineers, but to see that a great primary industry was not overloaded with a heavy ultra-protectionist duty. No words can exaggerate the importance of that industry. If’ we wanted to boom it, we ought to -let its requirements’ come in free; but that is not the object of the Tariff or our policy. All I ask honorable senators to do is_to apply the protectionist policy justly to this item. Of all the industries which can be named, the timber industry is about the, most natural to the Commonwealth. It has beenrepresented to me by those ‘ who are inte-‘ rested in the timber trade, that! they have spent almost fortunes in developing the industry, and that they constantly find their timber declining in price. In Tasmania, a number of mills have gone insolvent over and over again, but latterly there has been a spurt in timber. I know of one company which has spent about ^80,000 of English capital in erecting most delicate machinery, laying steel rails for a distance of six or seven miles into the forest, and providing locomotives. I know of another company which has spent a similar amount of English capital, if not more. I also know of a colonial mill which has spent ,£30,000 or ,£40,000 in the forest. Throughout Tasmania there are scores of mills, each of which has invested from £5,000 to £10,000 in mills and’ tramways. To compare the timber industry with innumerable industries which have received a protection of 20, 25, or 30 per cent., is like comparing a mouse to a. mountain. As my honorable friends have been imposing enormous duties in the interest of every small industry on the ground that certain goods are being made, or shortly will be made, here, ought they not to do some measure of justice to the great timber industry ? We are just beginning to devote our attention to scientific forestry, and I should fancy that the sooner it is applied the better it will be for every State. When we recollect what has been done in that regard in India and Russia, it will be recognised that our timber industry has illimitable possibilities. Is it not common sense and good finance to give some measure of protection to the timber industry ? It ought not to be a high duty, because, to a very great extent, the great industry of mining is dependent upon a supply of cheap timber. I ask the Minister whether the Government are prepared to’ support a slightly higher protective duty on the item - in other words, will he restore the original duty of is. 6d., or does he contend that the duty of 6d. is the result of a compromise arrived at in another place, or will he support a duty of is.?
– I shall support a higher duty on the condition specified in the proposed request of Senator Chataway.
– I could not understand how that proposed request could be made applicable to timber, until Senator Chataway handed to me a circular which has been issued for the information of Queensland senators. It certainly cannot be made applicable to Tasmania., because, as Senator Keating knows, we have practically no timber except hardwood. I do not know whether blackwood can be called a hard wood, but there is no great quantity of that variety. Huon pine is, of course, a beautiful softwood, but the supply is very limited. In the circular to which I have referred I find the following statement : -
The Government of Queensland has just authorized the extension, into districts carrying enormous quantities of magnificent softwoods, of three railways, aggregating about 80 miles, at a cost of about half a million pounds. These are to be pushed rapidly forward, and will place on the markets of the Commonwealth immense quantities of valuable timbers, provided that there is a protective duty sufficiently high to warrant their extraction, and the future, growth of timber on the same area, instead of the wholesale, immediate, and permanent destruction of these splendid forests.
I see, therefore, that Senator Chataway has framed a request, which is in print, and which is applicable to the softwood of Queensland. But if it be adopted, it will give no protection to the hardwoods of Tasmania.
– The protection will apply to Tasmanian hardwood just the same as it will apply to Queensland hardwood.
– We are now dealing with timber undressed, which, to a great extent, means Oregon, and in the next paragraph we shall deal with New Zealand pine undressed.
– All imported timber is softwood. Senator DOBSON.- As Tasmania has no softwood, I cannot see that the request can ever be applied in its case, but Queensland has plenty of soft timber to which it can be made applicable. The words of the request are -
Proclamation to issue as soon as it is certified to Parliament by the Minister that similar timber fitted for the requirements of local industries can be produced in the Commonwealth in sufficient quantity to supply the demands of such industries.
In Tasmania we have no timber similar to Oregon. , I also learn from this admirable circular that in Sweden and Norway, 2s. per day is paid to timber-getters. Senator Best introduced this Tariff with a statement that the great object of the Government, and of their protective policy, was to put on such duties as would make up for the unequal conditions of labour here. If in Australia a mill hand receives 7s. or 8s. a day, and in Sweden a man is paid only 2s. a day, surely there is a case made out for the imposition of, not an exorbitant duty, but a moderate duty on timber? It is stated that - 606,000 was the sum sent out of the Commonwealth last year, a large proportion of which went to pay such wages.
If there is a case where the facts and figures justify the imposition of a moderate duty, it is the case of trie timber industry. If the request is not carried, I shall submit a proposal for a higher duty.
– When Senator Story referred to the fact that imported timber was specially valuable in mines, he gave a reason which must commend itself to the judgment of every honorable senator. He showed that it was specially desirable for. purposes of. safety. Surely nothing can appeal to the Committee more strongly thain that. It will ill-become any honorable senator to take a step that would force the owners of mines to use timber” which was less suitable for their purposes, and less likely to prevent accidents. But my great argument against this ‘ duty is that timber is one of the great raw materials of scores of industries. For any half-dozen persons who would be advantaged by a protective duty on timber, you can find hundreds who would be burdened by its imposition. That is the great basis of any argument against such proposals as those in the schedule and the further proposals which I have heard rumoured - might I call them wooden ones—-for increasing the duty. It should be remembered that a very large proportion of the total value of timber im-. ported according to our import returns is represented by freight. I should think that for £1,000,000 worth of timber, according to the import returns, probably- the foreign countries that sell the timber do not receive more than £500,000 or ,£600,000, the balance going in freights. There are certain undressed timbers brought from a great distance on which the freight frequently amounts to quite as much as the original cost. All this goes to show that there is no article used in Australia which has such an enormous natural protection as timber has, and, therefore, if our timbergetters and sellers are not able to make headway without a duty they will not do very much with it. I hold in my hand a paper from a Mr. Robertson, who speaks of there being £200,000,000 worth of timber on certain areas in Australia, and reckons that that means a trade of £5,000,000 per year, which would require a very large proportion to be exported. He says -
The value of the timbers from those acres placed on our local markets and free on board for export is ^200,000,000 ; in forty years a turnover 01 ^5,000,000 each year.
Those prodigious quantities of timber which are said to exist in Australia would require a gigantic export trade, and if we can do an export trade, an import duty is not a ghost of use to us. I can therefore find no argument to induce us to impose upon the timber trade the burden of big duties, and I trust that Senator Story’s request will be agreed to.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia)’ [3.27]: - It must have been delightful to the Committee, as it was to me, to listen to the thorough-going protectionist speech of Senator Dobson. As another honorable senator sitting behind him said, he is gradually coming round. That is an extremely gentle way of expressing it, for he has absolutely come round.. But I congratulate him on the fact that after all, although he is a thorough-going protectionist, he is so with a difference.
– With a’ grain of salt. He voted against the little duty to the salt-growers of South Australia. He is not even content . in this case with the request proposed by his friend, .Senator Chataway, but says that it is no good. He knocks the bottom clean out of it,’ because they do not grow soft woods ira Tasmania.
– As it happens, they do.
– That is what I thought, but, Senator Dobson says, “only in a limited quantity.” They have Huon pine, but very little of it, and by the time Senator Chataway’s proclamation is issued the Huon pine will be exhausted, and those mills in which so much foreign money has been invested and lost in Tasmania will again have to shut up shop. It was exceedingly refreshing after that discourse to have the breath of freetrade brought into the chamber by Senator Pulsford, whose return we all welcome. He pointed out what I think is apt to be forgotten - that so far as regards woods that are the produce of Australia, we want no protection. The 6d. per 100 super, feet is not put forward as a’ protective duty, nor is it pretended to be accepted as such. The protective duty is to come when we get a rate of is. 6dL under Senator Chataway’s proposal: But what is the situation pin, Australia to-day in regard to the timbers’ that we grow? The hard timbers of Western Australia, probably the best on the Continent, are exported. We have not got a market for anything of the sort.
– Oh. ves.
– T mean not to any extent. . We are trying to pet jarrah blocks introduced as paving into the city of Adelaide, and, of course, they are used for other purposes, but a great export trade has sprung up, and I hope it will be multiplied.
– We arc using jarrah in the new telephone exchange.
– I am glad to hear it. For what purposes?
– I could not tell exactly. One reason why it is being used is that it is not very inflammable.
– Jarrah for outside building is next to useless as is shrinks terribly, and, while it bears a vertical strain fairly well, it will bear no transverse strain. It is like nearly all our hard woods.
– How is it that so many jarrah joists are put in if it bears no transverse strain?
– No jarrah joists are put in.
– They use little else for flooring joists.
– They are all placed on end.
– So is any wood used for that purpose.
– I know what I am talking about in that regard. Jarrah is, in regard to the ordinary transverse strain, like our own red gum, which is, perhaps, a superior timber in that respect.
– It is too short in the grain.
– That is the reason. It does not bear a transverse strain in the same way as many other timbers do. This paragraph, as Senator Story has pointed out, relates to the 12 i 6 timber. All the timber imported of that size is of the greatest use here not merely in mining, but in building operations, and is a kind of timber for which we have no substitute in Australia. Nobody can controvert what Senator Story says on that point. We have nothing to compare with it. I should be one of the last to disparage the forests of Australia, but just as in England where they have a great many kinds of woods, they import other woods required for particular purposes, so here we have to import woods that are more suitable until we can grow something else as a substitute for them. That something else cannot be Oregon, as Senator Story pointed out. Those engaged in our afforestation admit that Oregon timber’ is not likely to be grown here! No State in the
Commonwealth has done more for afforestation than South Australia has. The pine grown in the State plantations of South Australia is being used now for fruit boxes. So whenever we grow timber suitable for local use, it will be used locally. If we could grow Oregon, it would be used for the purposes for which Oregon is imported.
– We can grow.
Oregon, and therefore Senator McGregor will argue that we should have a protective duty. It is only a matter of time when we can grow it.
– I am certain that we cannot. What we do grow in South Australia, and I dare say it is grown in the other States as well, is the fast growing pine which produces excellent timber for fruit cases for export.
– All our apples are exported in wood of Tasmanian growth.
– That shows that Tasmania is better off than one anticipated, but if that is the case, why impose this duty ? If fruit cases are made in Tasmania of indigenous timber, and no timber is imported for the purpose, what is the duty wanted for? If we in South Australia make our fruit cases from the pines we grow ourselves, what do we want the duty for ? The timber specified in this paragraph ought to be free because it does not enter into competition with the timber from Tasmania, or with our pine for fruit cases. We hope to have extensive forests all over South Australia, but only of a particular kind of wood. I rejoice in the excellent quality of the wood grown in Australia, much of which is largely used in buildings. I have blackwood used in mv own house for wainscoting, &c. There is nothing better for that purpose, but it is not a substitute for the kind of timber that is imported. ,
– You cannot get the lengths.
– I do not profess to be as fully acquainted with this question as is Senator Story, who is an expert, but I know that we cannot get the lengths in blackwood for general building purposes, although the timber can ‘be got in the short lengths used in cabinet making and for various purposes in connexion with house building. Mr. Robertson, who writes on behalf of the timber trade, admits in the letter which has been quoted that oregon used for mining purposes ought to be free. Everybody must admit that. Where it- takes two or three men to handle a piece of hardwood, one man may be able to set up a piece, of oregon.
– But the hardwood lasts three times as long.
– Mining experts seem to think not, and the hardwood cannot be got of the quality or of the scantling. I quite sympathize with everything that has been said with regard to the Australian timbers, but our afforestation on this continent, and the use of timber grown in Australia, is not to be encouraged by imposing a duty of 6d. a hundred feet on timber which we do not and cannot grow here, and which is only imported because it is necessary and useful: I shall support Senator Story’s request.
– Although 6d. per 100 superficial feet may not be a very high duty, I consider that it really is a protective duty.
– Why did the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommend is. 6d. ?
– If . I had mv way, a duty of is. 6d. would be carried. I am sticking to 6d. not because; I think it is enough, but because I think that there is a chance of getting it, and if our newlyfound protectionists move the request they have indicated, there will be a probability pf getting is. 6d. in the future. I am glad to see that there is going to be a series of complications in this Chamber such as have never happened here previously except to a small extent with regard to steel rails and other little items of that description.
– Or fine herbs, salt, or bananas.
– Yes, but those are only small items compared with the present manifestations of sweet reasonableness *on the part of Queensland and Tasmanian senators. With respect to the merits of the Australian timber and of that which we a re at present discussing, the Minister of Home Affairs has pointed out that if this paragraph is made free, it will include every other timber, as well as Oregon, over 12 x 6.
– Not a single other timber is imported over that size, except in the log.
– There are other timbers. Did the honorable senator ever see teak imported ?
– In the log.
– No, not in the log, but in sizes of 12 x 6. Then green- heart and other timbers used in shipbuilding are imported. Cedar is also imported, and not only in the log. If a sweepingproposal such as that submitted by Senator Story were carried, it would include all these timbers that are competing with some of the finest timbers we have in Australia, such as Queensland cedar, and many other kinds of Queensland timber, of which representatives from that State know more than I do. I am not going to be so unpatriotic as to imagine for a moment that we cannot find in Australia a timber which, if it is not similar to Oregon, is at least quite as good for the same purposes as those for which oregon is used. We know that in the past Oregon has been used to a considerable extent in most of the States for building purposes - for joists, rafters, and so on. But if honorable senators visit Tasmania, they will see -many fine buildings in which Tasmanian hardwoods and not Oregon have been used, and it has been found that they serve their purpose ‘ quite as well as oregon. I did not hear of any collapses in those buildings due to any defect in the timber used in their construction. I could take honorable senators to one of the most magnificent edifices to be found in the suburbs of Melbourne or anywhere else, the rafters and joists of which have been made from Victorian stringy-bark. It has been erected for over twenty years, and though I was there not so long ago, there appeared to be no defect in thebuilding due to any inferiority in the timber used in its construction. All the joists used on the ground and upper floors ‘ of the building are made from Australian hardwood.
– I could mention cases where the same results have been obtained from the use of Queensland yellowwood.
– I have no doubt of that ; but I am trying to show from my own experience that if we have no oregon in Australia, we have timbers which are as good, if not better.
– Used in one house in Australia.
– No; they are used in almost every house in Tasmania, and in a very great many houses in Melbourne and in Sydney. I am aware that Australian hardwoods are used in the construction of buildings in Sydney on the authority of gentlemen who stipulated for their use with their architects. This proves that if we have not Oregon we have timbers which can be substituted for it. When the Tariff Commission visited Tasmania, they made exhaustive inquiries into the quality of the Tasmanian hardwoods, and they found that they were used for mining purposes in that State, and further, that there are not half as many mining accidents there through the collapse of supports or from any other cause as there are in the Broken Hill mines, that have never used, anything else but Oregon. That proves that the Tasmanian hardwoods are a very good substitute, to say the least of it, for Oregon, timber. With respect to Australian hardwoods, and Tasmanian hardwoods particularly, we had evidence that a piece of stringy-bark 6x6 would bear as great a strain, vertical or otherwise, as a piece of oregon 8x8, though the volume of timber is less in the case of the Tasmanian Hardwood by two-thirds. If we take weight for weight, I maintain that Australian hardwood is stronger than Oregon. Senator Story must admit it. If a building were being erected here of seven or eight stories, and the honorable senator and I were working on the sixth or seventh story, and, if in putting up a scaffolding I took a piece of 4 x 4 stringy-bark and put that in for a putlog, do honorable senators not think that Senator Story would feel himself more safe on that than he would if I put in a piece of 4 x 4 oregon ? The honorable senator knows well which he would prefer to risk his life upon. Senator Story. - Both would be safe.
- Senator Story is thoroughly well aware that a piece of 4 x 4 stringy bark would Garry nearly twice the weight that a piece of 4 x 4 oregon would carry.
– So it would, but both would be safe.
– I wanted that admission, because it proves that a piece of 4 x 2 stringy bark on its edge would be as strong as a piece of 4 x 4 oregon.
– That does not follow.
– It does, If I know anything about the breaking strain of timber, and I think I do know a little about it. I could take a scaffold pole of Austraiian stringy bark, 6 inches in diameter at the base to 3 inches in diameter at the top, and using it for an upright or a ledger, get the same strain from it any way that I could get from a 6 x 6 or an 8x8 piece of oregon. This goes to showthat those who have been using oregon up to the present time have done so merely because it is more easily worked. It is easier for a carpenter to saw or drive nails in it. That has been the whole secret of the use of these .soft woods in Australia. They would not be so largely used as they have been if people could only realize the durability of our hardwoods when properly seasoned.
– They very rarely get the chance- to realize it.
– That is so, and it is a very great pity. We know that Australian hardwoods, if given a chance, are equal to any timber produced elsewhere. Some people might say that if we use timber produced in other parts of the world we shall have our Australian hardwoods left for the use of future generations, but that is not so, because while we are im porting timber we are not saving our Australian timbers. ‘ Our lands must be occupied, and to-day in every State of the Commonwealth the valuable timbers of Australia are being destroyed by settlers because there is no market for them and they can put them to no use. In Queensland settlers are cutting down pine trees and leaving them in the logs to waste. They can get no market for them ; they won’t burn and they are a nuisance to them.
– That will continue under a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet.
– The duty will be a great benefit to - our people.
– They have always had a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet, and it has never induced the use of our hardwood.
– In Queensland we have used our own timbers all along.
– The duty has induced people to use our hardwoods. . In Melbourne- during the last six or seven years the Jarrah Timber Company of Western Australia have established agencies for the sale of their hardwoods, and they are being used even in Queensland. In the same way Queensland limbers are gradually being introduced in the southern States. Even with a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet there will be a distinct advantage in favour of Australian timbers. When Senator Macfarlane interjected that in Tasmania the local timber was being used for the manufacture of fruit cases, Senator Symon, in the usual way with free-traders asked if that were so why the honorable senator wanted the duty. But fruit is grown in other States of Australia as well as in Tasmania, and fruit-growers iri those States also require fruit cases. It must with them be a question whether their fruit cases are to be made from Australian timber or from imported timber, and if we have a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet on imported timber there will be an inducement given to use Australian timber.
– The honorable senator does not seriously suggest that a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet is a protective duty?
– I do; 100 superficial feet is not a very large quantity, but there are a good many hundreds of superficial feet in a substantial log.
– One hundred superficial feet is 10 feet square.
– It is, and it is 100 feet long, i foot wide, and i inch thick. It is also 50 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 1 inch thick. Every member of the Committee knows what it is. There are many hundreds of superficial feet of. timber in a substantial log, and that is why I consider this a protective duty. There are timbers to be found in other parts of the world that are not native to Australia, but we have substitutes for them in Australian timbers, and wherever an opportunity is afforded to me to give an advantage to anything grown or produced in Australia those connected with it will always find me prepared to encourage the use of the Australian article.
– We are dealing now with a somewhat complicated proposition in connexion with which, our political principles and’ experience and the apparent interest of the various States we represent may. appear to be brought into conflict. We have in Australia, from the northern to the southern end of it, almost inexhaustible forests of timber, and I think it behoves us to give a preference to the use of those timbers. We are largely using our local timbers at the present time, and in Tasmania we are now somewhat large exporters of timber. Our timbers are proved to be suitable for a great many purposes, and we can find a ready market for our heavier timbers. We are dealing with a proposition to make this timber free, because it is used for mining purposes. In connexion with that, I may inform honorable senators ‘ that I was one of a number of politicians in Tasmania who some years ago took an active interest in trying to reinstate Tasmanian hardwood in the favour of the mining companies of Broken Hill, who had begun to use oregon -in preference to it. I believe that the origin of the use of oregon was that the cost of transport of Tasmanian timber by rail, on account of its weight and density, was so great that the mining companies found that the difference in freight on the oregon gave that timber a slight advantage. Then they got used to oregon, and found that it possessed certain advantages. .1 think that it is only right to be candid with regard to these things, and to place the facts as we know them before the Committee. One advantage which it was found that Oregon possessed was its lightness. One man could handle a piece of timber such as isused in the Broken Hill mines comparatively easily, whereas a piece of Tasmanian hardwood - similar in size or strength - would require at least two men. It happens that mining in Broken Hill is of a special kind. It is not like ordinary lode or reef gold mining. It is not like ordinary silver-lead mining or mining as generally understood elsewhere. The ore in Broken Hill is found in very large formations indeed. It is not found in narrow fissures, but in a large deposit ; and it requires a very extensive system of interlocked timbering. That timbering has to be connected together in the strongest possible way, and has to support immense weights. One of the features of Oregon timber, as we have been previously told, is that when’ the weight becomes too great the timber gives a warning that a ‘collapse is possible ; and that indication may come in time to prevent a great accident. It is said that Tasmanian timber will not give that warning. These are the principal factors in favour of Oregon. If we had nothing to do but to consider the economical employment of timber in mines, I do not think that it would be a fair thing to ask for any duty ‘at all. But it has to be remembered that mining is only one of the purposes for which, oregon is used.
– Only 15,000,000 feet out of the total imports go to Broken. Hill.
– Fifteen million feet finds its way to Broken Hill. That i.-j somewhat less than one-third of the total quantity imported to Australia. Inthe Tasmanian mines- the same kind of timbering is not necessary. Our Tasmanian bush is in such close proximity to the mines, generally speaking, that there is no difficulty in supplying them with all the timber they want on the spot. We must not forget an important fact which’ is to my mind a, justification of the apparently inconsistent attitude of some free-traders - that we have seen protection extended to industries in many directions, some of the duties being in the opinion of the free-traders decidedly against the interests of the States they represent. They therefore say, “ You have decided to adopt protection in various lines which must be more or- less injurious, and now when an item is proposed which affects the States which we represent, it seems to us to be only a fair thing that our State should have a little of the rich plum pudding which you are distributing.” That I understand to be Senator Macfarlane’s attitude. I am not attempting to justify him j he must do that for himself. But I call attention to the attitude which he and some other free-traders adopt. I do not suppose that it will be denied that if any great calamity occurred depriving our mine-owners of the use of the forests of oregon there would be no need for the Broken Hill mines to shut down. There is plenty, of good timber in Tasmania and in other Australian States as well, that could be supplied to them almost as cheaply as they are now getting oregon, and certainly that timber is at least as strong if not stronger than oregon. On the other hand, one of the reasons why Australian hardwood is not in general demand and use has already been given.
– It never gets fair play.
– If it’ does not get fair play we must put ihe blame) where it is due. I am sorry to say that even my own State deserves some amount of criticism in this regard. We have magnificent forests in Tasmania which have been cut down without any regard to the right season for cutting timber, and without any regard to the necessity for stacking it or for seasoning it properly. It’ is not the Australian public that is responsible.
– That is right.
– Now, however, the saw-millers of Tasmania and of the other States are recognising the value of the timber that is grown alongside them. They take care now to cut down the tim ber at the right’ time in regard to the flow of the sap, so as to prevent it from warping while it is- being seasoned. That is a most important consideration. In Tasmania, unfortunately, we have vast forests upon which we cannot realize largely at the present time in consequence of our mistaken land policy. We have allowed some of the heaviest timbered land in the State to be taken up by settlers at j£i per acre, and we have allowed these unfortunate men to struggle on in the dense bush, where it is difficult even to get to their homesteads, without spending a few ‘ pounds to aid them with roads and tramways ; whilst at the same time we have been buying back high-priced estates an3 re-selling them, sometimes at a loss. It would be far better for us to spend a little money in extending assistance to our bush settlers in the way of good roads and tramways, so that they could utilize the timber that is growing quite close to them. I could take honorable senators to places in Tasmania where tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of magnificent’ blackwood are lying’ absolutely rotting on the ground because there is no possible means “ of taking it to market. The price at which that timber is now selling may possibly encourage the Tasmanian Parliament to spend a little money in developing one of the industries of their own State. If we give protection all round, it is only fair that our timber producers should have a reasonable measure of it. The duty proposed in the schedule, is only 6d. per too feet super. I am perfectly prepared either to move that the duty be increased to is., or to support a request to that effect. I shall also support Senator Chataway’s request in favour of raising the duty to is. 6d. at a time to be fixed by proclamation. Whatever, reason there may be for increasing the duty, however, it cannot be denied that, while the Broken Hill mines have been paying a duty of 6d. upon oregon, they have been making enormous dividends. Immense fortunes have been made out of those mines.
– Not lately. They only made very large dividends for a few months.
– Their profits were very large at One time.
– There are thousands of men out of work there now.
– Temporarily y .
– The honorable senator is going to tax them and to throw more men out of employment.
– I am credibly informed by a reliable firm in Tasmania, which observes proper conditions of employment, that they are stacking something like 2,000,000 feet of Tasmanian timber for seasoning. It will be available for purposes for which imported timber-is now being used. It does not take a long time to season this wood. Of course, I recognise that there are some purposes for which Tasmanian and other eucalyptus timbers cannot be used.
– Two million feet would not go very far in any case.
– This is -only a start. I also point out that if a duty of is. per 100 feet super, were imposed, it would only be 16 per cent, on the total value of that article. Looked at from a protectionist stand-point, that seems a reasonable duty, after the amount of protection we have given on other items.
.- It is a remarkable fact that over and over again, during these debates, we have heard honorable senators who profess free-trade principles advocating fair play for the natural industries of Australia. I should like to know what is a natural industry if that of timber-getting is not. Timber is growing in almost every part of Australia, and amongst it the finest in .quality in the world. Unlimited quantities of both hard and soft descriptions of timber _ are available, if only there is sufficient inducement to people to use it instead of the cheap imported woods - which are mostly rubbish - from other countries.
– But’ people cannot get it.
– It is ridiculous to make such a statement as that, seeing that there are plenty of men who would be only too willing to go out into the bush and get the timber if they could only get a fair price for it. It is only a question of cheapness. Now, what are the countries from, which we principally import timber? They are Sweden and Norway, and Puget Sound, in America. The wages paid in Sweden and Norway are extremely low - so low that they would astound any Austalian workman. We have been told about the natural protection which the Australian woods get. There is no natural protection. It costs less to bring a given quantity of timber from Sweden and Norway to Melbourne than it would cost to bring an equal quantity from Cairns to Melbourne.
– The remedy for that is to break up the combination in the coastal steam-ship trade.
– If we tried to do that, the honorable senator and his party would be the first to howl at us.
– It is one of the honorable senator’s colleagues who is the principal champion of the shipping ring here.
– It would cost more to land a cargo of Maryborough pine in Adelaide than it would cost to land a similar cargo from Sweden or Norway. What, then, becomes of the plea of natural protection ?
– The honorable senator forgets that the timber from foreign countries has to be brought from the forest to the port of shipment, just the same as in Australia.
– But after it is brought to the port of shipment, the freight cost is lower to bring a cargo from Sweden or Norway than it would be to bring it from Cairns or Maryborough to the same port in Australia; and the timber has to be brought to the port of shipment in Tasmania or Queensland, just as the foreign timber has to be brought to the port of shipment in the first instance. That disposes of the plea of natural .protection which has been referred to, and which, to my mind, is also the most unnatural protection in the world. I can hardly be accused of being a geographical protectionist. I do not propose protection for timber because Queensland has a large quantity of it, or simply because I am a representative of that State. Every one knows that my vote is as readily cast in favour of an industry in any part of Australia as it is in favour of a Queensland industry. But we in Queensland have as good a right to get protection for our industries as has any other State. What is the position in regard to the Queensland timber getter? He has to pay a duty on his tools of trade and the saw-miller is subjected to a heavy duty on his saw-mill machinery. I approved of all those duties because the articles taxed can be made here, but after taxing everything which the saw-miller and the timber-getter use–
– But does not the tax make the articles cheaper to them?
– When the industry is established it will, but in. the meantime why should not the ,man who is getting the timber have a little protection, and by -and- by, when our forests have been properlydeveloped the timber will be cheaper.
– It is cheaper to-day than the imported article.
– If is not anything of the sort. But quality for quality it is cheaper.
– It is cheaper.
– No, the honorable senator can get tongued and grooved halfinch pine boards delivered on a building in Melbourne at 6s. (per 100 feet, and no Australian timber can be purchased at the same price. This white pine is a sort of rubbish which should not be imported : it is mainly used by jerry builders. What is the plea put forward by Senator Story for the elimination of this duty ? It is that in Australia we have not an adequate or proper substitute for oregon pine. Now this item includes every kind of timber as well as Oregon pine, and if the duty be removed all those timbers will come in free too. The Oregon pine displaces a great many of the Australian timbers which are really more suitable. The fact that it is imported in large quantities and is procurable fairly cheaply has induced its use to the detriment of Australian woods which are of better quality and better adapted to the purposes for which the imported pine is used very often. In Australia there are only two mining centres which use Oregon pine, namely, Broken Hill and Cobar. Why is it used in those places ? It can be imported in large quantities in bulk because, being fairly light, it does not cost too much for railway carriage, and also because when it is shipped in large cargoes it cain be brought to the port at a cheaper rate than can Australian timber. I have seen the timbering in Broken Hill. The same necessity does not exist there to-day for using quantities of timber as did exist fifteen years ago.
– If the honorable senator’s statement is- correct, as I think it is, the effect of stopping the importation of oregon would not be to give a higher price to the local timber-getters, but more freight to the railways.
– I think that it would be a good thing to the State railways if they had a little more freight, and the demand would be there for the timber. Senator Symon said that I wanted to tax the poor miner in Broken Hill because I wish to get a little protection for the timber industry. Let us see how much sympathy the poor miners deserve and how much sympathy the honorable ‘senator has for them.
I venture to say that if there were an industrial struggle at Broken Hill tomorrow, as there has been in the past, to get better conditions for the poor miner, he and most of those who sit on the other side would be dead against the poor unfortunate working miner.
– Not at all ; there is not the slightest foundation for that statement. The honorable senator is slandering those who are as sympathetic as he is for the poor man.
– I should like to know how much sympathy did the Broken Hill miners get from the honorable senator when they had a struggle in former years. lt is not the miners, but the mine-owners, who have to pay the duty, and well they can afford to do so, for during the last twentyfive years they have been tearing wealth out of the bowels of Australia and paying themselves enormous dividends, mostly to go to foreign countries. For instance, Broken Hill Proprietary has paid fully .£8,000,000 in dividends. Yet we are asked to extend our sympathy to the poor mine-owners who have drawn that amount of dividends in a quarter of a century.
– Dees not the honorable senator think that the more the mines are taxed the harder it will be for them to find employment ?
– The mine-owners may cry out that their profits are going down and want to screw the working miner a little more; but I hope that it will be the duty of this Parliament to see that they shall not sweat their employes. There is no comparison between the utility of Australian hardwoods and that of Oregon pine for mining purposes. Oregon pine will not stand anything like the strain that Australian hardwoods will stand. Where there is a very big strain, as there is at Broken Hill, where the lodes are very large, the mines, want timber that will stand the greatest, strain. There is not the same necessity in that mining centre now for large quantities, of softwood for timbering as there was fifteen years ago, because the square set system has largely been displaced, and it is only in a very small percentage of theworkings that it is used now. The system of timbering has been entirely altered. For instance, they take out a large quantity of ore by the open-cut system, and that requires such a small quantity of timber as not to be worth taking into account. In the workings down below, instead of the square-set system, where they had! practically to fill the whole of the .works with a framework of timber, they have now a system known as chamber and fill. They mine out a chamber of ore, fill it with mullock from other portions of the mine, remove the timber which had been used, and work on top of the mullock, so that there is practically no timber left in the workings now, whereas under the old system all the timber was left in them. In Australia we have immense quantities of hardwood, which is undoubtedly the best timber in the world for mines. There is nothing to approach if anywhere for mining purposes.
– Why is it not used?
– It is used in every mining centre except Broken Hill . and Cobar, and there it is used, because the mines wanted large quantities of timber at the cheapest possible^ rate. Oregon pine was light, could be imported in big cargoes, and carried over the railways at cheap rates. The mine-owners were looking out for the cheapest timber to fulfil only a temporary purpose. Oregon timber will not last to hold the ground like hardwood will do. Consequently, we have had creeps and falls in those mines where, Oregon pine has been used which would not have occurred if good, sound Australian hardwoods had been used. We have immense mines in other portions of Australia. There are the great gold-fields of Bendigo, Ballarat, and other places in Victoria, and the great gold-fields of Charters Towers, Gympie, and Mount Morgan in Queensland. Tn those mining centres the mineowners do not ask for pine, and the squareset system has been used there. They would not have Oregon pine in the mine, because it is not equal to Australian hardwood. We have enormous coal-mines in Newcastle and other portions of New South Wales, and they do not ask for Oregon pine. Oregon pine is an element of dangar in a mine, because after a time it will collapse. lt will not stand the wet. It is very resinous, and directly a fire comes along it will burn almost from end to end in the mine. To say that Australian hardwood is not equal to Oregon pine for mining purposes is simply absurd, because in every mining centre except the two I named, it is used and found to be excellent.
– What would it cost to get Queensland hardwood for the Broken Hill mines?
– Directly a protectionist falls away from the fold he begins to admit straight away that with him it is all a question of cheapness, and he is prepared W allow our workmen in the industries to go to the wall simply because they cannot produce as cheaply as can cheap labour in other countries. That doctrine does not appeal to me, and I do not propose to waste any time in discussing it. I propose to advance one or two reasons why our timber industry ought to get a little protection. I do not. think for one moment that because our mining companies need timber in very large quantities they should get the sympathy for which Senator Symon pleaded. They are engaged in tearing wealth out of the bowels of the earth, and Australia will be so much the poorer when it has all been removed. They are making- good dividends, and it is only fair that they should submit to a protective duty on the timber which they import.
– Does the honorable senator think that 6d. per io.o feet is a protective duty?
– No, and I shall vote for the highest duty I can get. What are the facts in regard to the timber resources of Australia? The timber resources of some portions are as yet untouched and unknown. The immensity of the areas containing good timber is so great’ that it would be impossible to estimate the quantity or value of the timber which would be available under a proper system if the industry were developed. In Queensland there are immense quantities of pine, in addition to the hardwood which abounds all over Australia. There is hardwood in Victoria, New South Wales, and the other States to an almost unlimited extent. I believe that Western Australia has developed one of the biggest timber industries .in Australia, and the quantity of timber there is almost illimitable. Every other State has large quantities of hardwood, but in addition to that Queensland especially has enormous undeveloped areas containing the finest’ softwoods. All the wainscotings and doors in this building were made out of Queensland cedar, and I do not think that a .finer timber could be obtained in the world. There is still an almost unlimited quantity of that timber in the ranges of North Queensland. I do not suppose that it would need much protection anyhow, because no timber in the world could compete with it, although it fetches a very high price. We have in addition pine of many varieties, suitable for any purposes for which ordinary softwoods are used. The Maryborough hoop pine is almost unsurpassed for the general purposes for which pine is ordinarily employed. We have also in North Queensland the white pine and the kauri pine, both excellent timbers in their way. There is the bunyah pine, and, in fact, almost illimitable quantities of pine suitable for almost every purpose imaginable. Why should we not use those timbers? There are various classes of timbers in Queensland which are only now becoming known. The crowfoot elm, f6r instance, is to be found in almost any scrub in Queensland in illimitable quantities. It has hitherto only been cut down and burnt to clear the land. There is the yellow wood, of which Sena-, tor Chataway spoke, and several others of very superior quality. There are three or four varieties of oak, which are unsurpassed. The silky oak of Queensland can not be beaten for joinery purposes. The panelling it makes is magnificent, and if it were only a little better known it would be universally used.
– It is only big enough to make walking-sticks.
– The honorable senator is a fair-sized man, but if he will come with me to North Queensland I will put him alongside any number of felled trees which he cannot look over. As a matter of fact, there are trees growing in North Queensland which could hardly be taken through this chamber horizontally. The tunnels on the railway line in North Queensland are fairly big, but there are plenty of cedar trees in the Atherton district too big to go through them. That will give honorable senators some idea of the size to which timber grows in Queensland. It is quite common to see silky oak 6 feet in diameter. Some honorable senators, like a great many other people in Australia, have very little conception of the variety, extent or value of the resources of this continent. The timber-getter is a pioneer who does [Valuable work in opening up country for the settlers who come after him. He goes out into the bush looking for timber, and clears tracks which are availed of afterwards by men looking foi land. If he finds timber he has to clear roads to drag it to the water or to a railway, and those roads are afterwards of use to the settler. He finds and opens up new country,- and the settler avails himself afterwards of the results of his efforts. I hope to see the day when we shall not bt dependent even upon our own natural timber resources, but will adopt a large system of afforestation, when the various> States will go in for planting the most suitable varieties of timber on what would otherwise be waste land. How can the States, or even private individuals, be encouraged to do that, except by showing them that timber-growing in Australia is a payable industry,, and that timber is too valuable to be felled and burnt off for clearing purposes? That is practically what is done with a large quantity of valuable timber in Australia to-day. I join with those who say that this natural industry ought to get a little protection, the same as any other. I am prepared to give it the highest protection I can get. I shall vote against Senator Story’s request, and for any proposition to increase the duty.
– The arguments so far have been overwhelmingly against the position taken up by Senator Story. The free-trade section of the Tariff Commission recommended a duty of 10 per cent., and so it seems rather like swallowing the principles of free-trade to strain at the amendment which is now being proposed. With regard to the merits of oregon and hardwood - and Queensland probably possesses to an even greater extent than Tasmania does the finest qualities of hardwood - a witness before the Tariff Commission gave interesting evidence. In answer to questions 35274-5 he gave the information that a piece of hardwood 9 feet by 6 inches by 4 inches is equal in strength to Oregon g- feet by 12 inches by 6 inches, and the one would be as easy to handle as the other, strength for strength. He further stated, in answer to questions 35277-80, that birdwood has twice the straining power of oregon, and one-third less the quantity of the former would suffice for mi,ning purposes as against the latter. This meant to some extent a reduction of cost. Senator Givens has a practical acquaintance with mining, and if his information that the square-set system of timbering is being abandoned at Broken Hill is correct, it is evident that there can no longer be claimed for oregon for mining purposes a superiority over the hardwoods of Australia. It was certainly a revelation to find a request to make this paragraph free coming from Senator Story, for if any consistency has been maintained throughout the discussion of the
Tariff schedule it has been shown by him. He has been a staunch protectionist from beginning to end. All that it was necessary to say to him to induce him to support a duty was - “ Something can be produced in Australia,” or “ Some industry requires developing in Australia, and should have as high a duty as possible.” It is therefore rather extraordinary to find him - the stalwart of the stalwarts in the cause of Australian industries - suddenly turning into an outright free-trader. There have been many changes, twistings, and turnings in this debate, and consequently we are prepared for surprises, but the surprise furnished by Senator Story must be very nearly the record. It will be interesting to see whether he will maintain his position.
– He is a long way behind the honorable senator.
– I am not anxious to make comparisons which, as Mrs. Malaprop said, are “ odorous.”
– Senator Story may have a record for being straight, but I know who has the record for being twisted.
– I am not going to argue as. to who has earned the palm for notoriety. As I announced at the beginning, I shall take each item as I consider it should be dealt with. I would remind New South Wales senators, who are hesitating with regard to this duty, that the Committee by an overwhelming majority gave a protection of 12 J per cent, to the iron and steel industry of their State, on whose needs they were insistent.
– The honorable senator did not vote for that duty.
– I did not. But it was evident to everybody that that vote was a tactical and not a fiscal one. One of the strongest claims urged by the New South Wales representatives, for that 12J per cent, duty was that the New South Wales iron industry could not compete against the world, notwithstanding the freights, and that it was a large industry, hacked by State assistance, and of use to the whole of Australia.’ They argued that every industry was more or less dependent upon it, and some of them advocated a duty as high as 15 per cent. If, then, I may appeal to the discredited ghost of consistency in this Chamber, I can ask them on their own grounds to support our claims in this matter, and not to hesitate to vote for the comparatively small duty which we ask for on behalf of Tasmania, Queens land, and the other wooded States of Australia.
– Is the honorable senator asking for protective duties for his State? He ought to be ashamed of himself. He argued previously, until he made himself sick, that protective duties imposed hardships and burdens.
– The honorable senator is better in a tragedy than a farce. He makes far more impression when proclaiming the tragedy of strangled industries than in a role which he knows himself is more or less farcical. Every honorable senator has received a circular pointing out that the Queensland Government have committed themselves to .the expenditure of close on £500,000 specially and directly intended to open up the vast timber areas which are known to exist throughout Queensland. If the iron industry of New South Wales required 12 J per cent, on account of its importance, and if what was proved with regard to the iron deposits in that State justified Government assistance, surely when the Queensland State Government pledge themselves to spend half a million pounds to develop the timber industry, the very, argument which convinced the Committee that 121 per cent, was a reasonable duty in the former case must apply with equal force to our appeals for a fairly large amount of protection for the timber industry. The three districts into which those railways are going are named in the circular. They are as follows -
Those who are acquainted with the geography of Queensland know that that money is to be spent mainly because the timber getters and settlers who go to those districts will find ready to their hand an asset which is marketable at once throughout the whole of Queensland and the Commonwealth. When we find the Government of. a State rising to its responsibilities, and prepared to show its confidence in the timber resources of the State bv undertaking obligations to the extent of £500,000, we are entitled to ask the Committee to give the most favorable consideration to the claim now put .before it. I can confirm, from personal observation, a great deal of what Senator Givens has said with respect to the extraordinary wealth of timber in the district of Atherton. When the honorable senator mentioned that there are cedar trees in that district which could scarcely be got into this chamber, he was not exaggerating the matter, because Ave should have to remove a large portion of the doorway before some of the cedar logs that I have seen could be brought in here. I have seen cedar logs which must have been 12 feet in diameter, and I have seen photographs of a cedar tree after it was felled which was 22 feet in diameter. The Atherton district is not only one of the richest timber districts in Australia, but it is one of the finest agricultural districts in the world. It possesses a climate which throughout the year is delightful, and certainly the best means for opening it up is to make the timber-getter the pioneer of the farmer.
– Is the honorable senator arguing in favour of duties on timber ?
– If Senator Findley does not understand the drift of my remarks, it is impossible for me to find brains for him to enable- him to do so. The honorable senator has -posed as thehigh tragedian of prohibition, and, in now assuming a farcical role on this question, he is making more or less of an exhibition of himself. Senator Story has in this case- spoken as a free-trader, and he is backed up by Senator Symon, who wonders why we should desire to impose a duty upon an article which, is so universally used. But I noticed that Senator Symon had not the same objection to the imposition of duties on wines, and that, in fact, the honorable senator was prepared to assist the Committee to impose those duties.
– The honorable senator should not upbraid Senator Symon.
– I am not doing so. I am merely doing what every member of the Senate at this stage of the discussion of the, Tariff apparently finds it easy to do. I am pointing out that each and every member of tha Committee has been more or less inconsistent.
– Let the honorable senator speak for himself.
– I can speak for myself, as on this item I have an opportunity of voting on a fairly good wicket. I have never, in the discussion of this Tariff, been either a strong free-trader or a strong protectionist, and I have seen every member of the Committee, and every party in the Senate, come back on one item or another to the position which I fearlessly indicated as mine from the beginning. I hope, for the reasons . that have been given, that Senator Story’s request will be overwhelmingly defeated. It has been indicated that there is a desire to restore the old definition of what constitutes 100 superficial feet. This is an important matter, and I merely indicate now that if some other honorable senator with a greater practical acquaintance with the - subject than I have does not move in the direction suggested, I shall be prepared to do so. I hope that Senator Story’s request will be withdrawn, or that, if persisted in, it will meet with- the defeat which I think it deserves.
– - Time seems to be of very little importance to some honorable senators. We have listened to several speeches from honorable senatorswho would have better consulted the convenience of the Committee if they had remained silent. They have reeled off speeches in thar own eloquent style upon a subject on which they have no information.
– If the honorable senator refers to me, I took just about eight minutes.
– That was eight minutes too long, because the honorable senator did not throw any light on the question before the Committee. He apparently quite misunderstood the remarks made by Senator Givens, who does know something about the subject. The honorable senator was quite unable to follow the clear case made out by Senator Givens. I should not be taking up more time on this item if it were not that I desired to contradict a statement which was made by Senator Symon. The honorable senator, referring to the quality of jarrah timber, said that its transverse strain is very deficient, and that it is consequently rejected for mining. I know that that statement is contrary to fact. I have had as much experience of timbering in mines, and have handled as much of the jarrah timber, as most man, and I say without fear of contradiction that jarrah timber is as good as any timber known for mining purposes, for which Senator Symon has said ir is not safe. I know that it is somewhat shorter in the grain than oregon timber, but oregon timber has its defects also.
So far as I know, the only good quality which Oregon possesses, as compared with Australian hardwood, is its lightness, and the consequent low freight upon it where it has to be carried any distance. It is strange that the one argument used by the Opposition against our making use of our own timbers is the fact that it would lead to an increase in the profits of the States railways. Some honorable senators would appear to look upon it as a crime to put any profit in the way of the States railways, when we know that if they are to be given a fair opportunity to show the benefit that may be derived from them, they should be given the same chance as if they were privately owned. I have risen to say that for mining purposes our hardwoods are in every sense better than imported timbers. I hope honorable senators will bear in mind that its lightness and the consequent low cost of freight where it has to t’e carried over any distance are the only advantages that can be claimed for the imported timber. I am not as familiar with the system of timbering in the Broken Hill mines as with that in use at Newcastle, and Queensland, and in Tasmania, where it is found that the native timbers are admirable for mining purposes. There may be reasons connected with mining at Broken Hill which would justify the preference for imported timbers, but I do not know what they are. I have heard it stated repeatedly .that they ask for oregon timber because of the low cost of freight on it.
– I think that a good deal of what has been said on this item is beside the question. There are two points which I think should be borne in mind. The first is that timbers may be imported which may come into competition with our local timbers, and the next point is that if we made the duty 5s. per 100 superficial feet, a vast, quantity of timber would continue to be imported, and m respect of that timber, to the extent of the duty whatever it might be, we should penalize and injure the industries’ in which it was used. We ought to be sure about what we are aiming at. We should consider first of all whether our timber industries need protection by the imposition of duties, and if they do; how far we can protect ,them in that way without injuring other industries which require to use imported timber. I make the statement1, that no matter what duty is imposed a large, quantity of softwoods must be imported, because we have 110 similar timber readily available in the Commonwealth. If we had, it would find a ready market at such a price as would make the development of the industry a payable proposition. The price of softwoods in Australia to-day is regulated, not bv the local supply, but by the absence of a local supply, and it is such a price as would pay any one to put up sawmills to provide the timber required if suitable timber could be found in Australia. As Senator Story and any person connected1 with the building trade must know, the present high price for clear pine, sugar pine, red pine, and for deals is so high that if there is a suitable timber in Australia to take the place of those timbers, it should be a perfect gold-mine for any man who will erect a sawmill to supply that timber. At any rate, such a man need have no fear that his price would be undercut by importers of timber.
– The honorable senator’s remarks apply only to timber used for building purposes.
– That may be so, but we are not dealing with timber used only . for mining purposes. We are not dealing merely with oregon, but with all kinds of timber that are imported. I wonder whether honorable senators have looked at the quantities of timber imported. According to the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, in 1906 we imported from New Zealand 65,055,500 superficial feet of New Zealand pine. Of oregon, we imported from America 51,500,500 superficial feet, and of other timber, which includes all the pines I have enumerated, spruces, deals, and other kinds of timber, 4,966,763 superficial feet - less than 5,000,000 superficial feet. In the circular to which reference has been made by Senator Chataway, it is asserted that this is a wages question - that we have to fear competition with low-wage countries. Now, as a matter of fact, if we total those quantities, 116,500,000 feet superficial comes from New Zealand, the United States, and Canada, and less than 5,000,000 from the Baltic, where are the low-wage countries? I recently had the experience of going through matters in connexion with a strike in connexion with the timber industry in Western Australia. During the progress/ of that industrial trouble, I had the opportunity - which does not always occur to one - of ascertaining the wages paid in America and Canada. J say here, without fear of successful contradiction, that the wages paid on the Pacific slope of the United States in the timber industry are higher than the wages paid in Australia in any similar industry.
– Certainly, very much higher than those paid in Queensland.
– Certainly, higher than in Queensland, which is notoriously the lowest-paid State in the Commonwealth, so far as concerns the timber-getting industry
– Give them protection and our employers will pay them better wages.
– If protection would induce them to pay better wages, they would have clone it long ago, because Queensland had higher duties as affecting this industry than had any other State in the Commonwealth. That disposes very effectually of Senator Givens’ bogy about low-wage competition. As a matter of fact, the greater part of the timber which comes to Australia is imported from countries where higher wages are paid than is the case in Australia. ‘
– Did the honorable senator find that there was any country paying higher wages than Australia?
– Yes; higher wages are paid on the Pacific slope of the United States. We had particulars sent out to us by the Timber Workers’ Union on the Pacific slope and the wages were, in every case, higher than those paid in Western Australia. In fact, we used that as an argument in favour of the men in Western Australia. We contended that Australia, at any rate, should pay as mucH as America is paying. Senator Givens also said - and these reckless statements should not, I think, be allowed to pass without being looked into- - that we tax the saw-miller’s plant, and that as he is oppressed by protective duties on the one hand, he should have the advantage of protective duties on the other.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– The honorable senator used that as an argument why we should put a tax on timber. But it is not correct. If the honorable senator looks at the Tariff and. the by-laws framed under it, he will find that saw-milling plant is free of duty’.
– Nothing of the sort.
– But it is a fact. If the honorable .senator denies a plain fact, there is no arguing with him. We went into the matter only recently on a request, moved by Senator Millen to make band saws free. If Senator Givens takes the trouble to look into the matter, he will find that they are free to-day, and they have been free for some time under the by-laws framed under the Tariff.
– But the motive power of the s~aw-millers is dutiable.
– Except their electrical machinery, thanks to the honorable senator’s action. Neither is it a fact that imported timber is, with one solitary exception, selling at a lower price than local timber. The one exception is tongued and grooved Baltic flooring. That is selling at a lower price than tongued and grooved jarrah flooring; But there is this to be said- about that - that tongued and grooved jarrah flooring will outlast tongued and grooved deal flooring. And, therefore, the man’ who looks at it from a business stand-point, will realize that tongued and grooved jarrah flooring is really ten times as cheap as tongued and grooved pine flooring. In fact, it is astonishing to me that jarrah flooring is not used to a greater extent than it- is. It is a beautiful flooring, as hard as possible - practically everlasting - and if the wood is well seasoned is perfect in every way. But jarrah does not need any protection. It is successfully invading foreign markets. It is making its way fast into the markets of other States.In 1906, 24,000,000 superficial feet found its way into the eastern States.
– Why. not keep out the cheap trash to which the honorable senator has referred?
– There is no need to impose duties to keep it out, because the jarrah itself will keep it out for those purposes for which jarrah is most suitable. But it has to be remembered that there are purposes for which softwoods are better adapted, and for which jarrah cannot be successfully used.
– Are the Western Australians replanting or simply wiping out their forests?
– They do not need to replant jarrah. The tree replants itself. The trouble in the Western Australian jarrah forests is in thinning out the saplings to give the young jarrah a chance to grow. A forest will never come to perfection unless it is thinned out. In the recent forest legislation provision has been made - although I am told that there hasbeen very lax administration - for the forest rangers to compel the saw milling companies to thin out the young jarrah to allow the young trees to come to perfection. The jarrah tree will complete its growth in forty years, and be fit for cutting in that time.
– I think that the Act provides that the millers shall net cut trees of less than a certain thickness.
– Yes, and the forest rangers are also given power to compel the companies to cut out the young jarrah saplings in order to allow the young forest to rehabilitate itself ; and in forty years the timber can be cut over again. There are forests in Western Australia that are being cut over to-day which were cut over forty years ago. If. honorable senators have any doubt about the question, they can turn to the evidence taken by the Tariff Commission. In the report of the free-trade section they will find numbers of instances of statements by local timber merchants and others to the effect that imported timber is net underselling local timber -
Evidence was given in Western Australia that pickets of local timber were sold in the rough at from ros. to 15s. per 100 according to size. Local producers were not undersold by importers. Oregon pickets are landed at ?6 103. . per 1000 - 4 1/2 feet lengths.
– How do prices compare with regard to weatherboards?
– 1 am not sure about that. Tongued and grooved flooring is the only instance I know of. I have been a buyer myself in Western Australia, where weatherboard houses are very common. A man who would put up a weatherboard house to-day and use pine weatherboards would be thought to be a fit subject for the Fremantle lunatic asylum. In very few cases are pine weatherboards used there to-day. Builders use jarrah.
– Pine is used- on the gold-fields on account of its cheapness.
– But not on the coast, where, without exception, jarrah is used. The following statement is also contained in the report of the protectionist section -
In Western Australia prior to Federation, the Karri and Jarrah Timber Company were not represented in the other Australian States. At present the Inter-State demand was increasing, as compared with a few years ago. This was especially noticeable in 1903. In 1904 there was a falling-off, because the price of their timber could not be sufficiently reduced to meet the competition of Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland in the world’s market.
Mr. Smith, the general manager of the Karri and Jarrah Company, said that he was not afraid of local competition. He admitted that jarrah needs no protection. One has only to turn to the evidence given by Mr. Smith where he speaks of jarrah as being much superior in respect of its capacity for standing lateral strain. Jarrah, however, is not so good in this respect as karri, which is very strong and will stand a lateral strain as great as any known timber in the world. I come now to the statement of Senator Givens that the square-set system has been abandoned in Broken Hill. I had my doubts when the honorable senator made the statement, and I therefore wrote a note to Mr. Josiah Thomas, the member for Barrier, in another place, who knows more about Broken Hill than any man in this Parliament. I wrote to him* -
As Senator Givens has asserted, dealing with the timber duties, that the system’ of square-set timbering in Broken Hill mines has practically ceased; if this is so, I should like to have a statement from you on the question.
Mr. Thomas replied
It is quite a mistake that there is no squareset timbering in Broken Hill at present. There is a tremendous amount of it still being done -
That does not say that! it has practically ceased.
– I say that it has practically ceased.
– .The note goes on - and a great deal of the timbering - in fact, the great portion of it underground - has still to be done by Oregon timber, which cannot be produced as yet in Australia.
– I stick to my assertion notwithstanding Mr. Thomas’ statement.
– He says-
The oregon timber must be used even if the duty were 3s. or 5s. per 100 feet.
– He is a freetrader.
– But a man’s statement is none the less reliable on that account. Does the honorable senator moan to say that because Mr. Thomas is a freetrader we must not believe what he says?
– He does not deny what I said.
– He does. The honorable senator said that the square-set system had “ practically ceased.” Mr. Thomas says that “ there is a tremendous amount of it still being done.” If that is not a denial I do not know a denial when I see one.
– I was up in Broken Hill two and a half years ago.
– Mr. Thomas was there only last month, and surely he knows something about the district which he represents in Parliament.
– I still stand by my :statement.
– I ask the Committee whether in view of the tremendous importation of softwoods which are not produced in Australia, and in view of the fact that softwoods in Australia are sold at a price higher than our local woods, we ought to put on a duty of this kind, and if so, what are we going to put it on for ? It is evident that softwoods are imported, not to compete with local .woods, but because we have no equivalent local wood. I have spent many years of my life in the building trade. ‘ Although in Western Australia we have a tremendous supply of excellent timber, yet there is a huge importation of softwoods, for the simple reason that there are many things for which our jarrah is not suitable. Jarrah will continue to be a magnificent asset for the State. It will be none the less so because we need to use softwoods. Because they are imported, it is not going to be any the less valuable. If will not be used any the less because softwoods are used ; but the latter will be used for distinct purposes. For those purposes for which jarrah is suitable, it will be used. For such purposes as flooring and for joists, it will beat the softwoods as soon as its value becomes known in the eastern States, as it has already beaten them in the western State. In the coastal districts of Western Australia, one cannot find softwood floors in a house. Although that timber can be obtained at a cheaper rate, still, hardwood timber is used every time for that purpose. Ofl the gold-fields, a slightly different condition exists, merely by reason of the distance from the forests. When jarrah, which is a very heavy wood, has to be carried into the interior for a distance of 400 miles, it becomes a question with a man as to whether it is cheaper to use jarrah or oregon. On the gold-fields oregon is used for many purposes for which jarrah is used on the coast. But why should we penalize the people on the goldfields, by compelling them to pay a still higher price for the timber which they prefer to use?
– Very little oregon is imported into Western Australia.
– A fair quantity is imported.
– No; only 1,500,000 superficial feet.
– That quantity, distributed amongst a population of 250,000, is a fair quantity.
– It is worth only ^4,000.
– Considering that only 51,000,000 superficial feet is imported for all Australia, 1,500,000 superficial feet is a very fair share for Western Australia.
– That shows that it is generally used for the other purposes; for instance, in building poor people’s houses.
– lt is imported for the purposes for which jarrah is not suitable. Western Australia imports a lesser quantity, because her people have found out that jarrah is suitable for many things for which people in’ the eastern States have not yet realized that it is suitable.
– For building homes for wealthy men ?
– It is used in building homes for rich and poor alike.
– It is used in South Australia; we used 400,000 sleepers there.
– Jarrah does not need any protection, because it is sent to India, Argentina, and America.
– In South Australia, we have great difficulty in getting a supply of sleepers for the electrification of the tramways ; it has delayed the work very much.
– I appeal to the Committee not to impose a high duty on these timbers, because they must be imported. If a duty be imposed, undoubtedly it will simply be a revenue duty, and money will be taken from every person who wants to build a house or to use imported softwood in his industry. The natural resources of Australia do not need any protection they must succeed without that aid, because if they are to be worth anything to us, they must be able to compete in the world’s markets. It seems to me that under the guise of pretending to protect a local industry, honorable senators are seeking to impose a. revenue duty.
– We may have a chance of increasing this duty.
– It would still be a revenue duty. If it be fixed at 3s. per 100 superficial feet, there is a vast quantity of things which will continue to be made of imported softwood. Jarrah is cheaper than sugar-pine, but who would think of making or buying a door or a sash made out of stock jarrah?
– Why cannot Australian cedar be used for the making of sashes ?
– Because at the present time it is far more costly, and will continue to be far more costly, than the imported pine.
-It is a question of cost then?
– Yes, and when my honorable friend comes to build a house he, like every other man. will consider the question of cost.
– When I did build a house, every sash and door was made of Australian cedar.
– The honorable senator had to pay for his idiosyncrasy in that respect. He cannot deny that in the other States there is a profitable market for every log of Queensland cedar, but that an adequate supply cannot be obtained. The last firm for whom I worked in Western Australia experienced the greatest difficulty in obtaining a supply for a big contract of cedar work.
– That was a long time ago.
– It was only seven years ago. The old Tariff did not make the position any better. Every one in the timber trade knows that there is an unlimited market for cedar, but that the supply is not equal to the demand, and that a duty is not needed to stimulate the supply. The timber industry does not need protection on the score of wages. Senator Givens’ statement was altogether fallacious, because 100,000,000 superficial feet of timber had been imported from countries where the wages are higher than here, and only 5,000,000 superficial feet from countries where the wages are lower than here. The industry does not need a duty from the stand-point of protection, because local timbers, wherever they are available, are used, and in many cases they are exported to foreign countries, where they find a ready sale. Softwoods must continue to be imported, and there fore any duty that may be imposed will be a revenue duty, and to that extent will be a hindrance to those who are building and using timber in their industries. I intend to vote to make the item ‘free, and I shall do so without the slightest fear of injuring the timber industry of Western Australia or any other State.
– I do not propose to question the statement of Senator Pearce, that higher wages are paid in the timber industry on the American continent than in Australia, because I believe that it is correct ; nor am I going to say that in Queensland anything like a fair and reasonable wage is being or has been paid to the employes in the saw-milling industry. WhatI want to point out in connexion with the wages question is that a sort of transformation is taking place. Hitherto in Queensland there has been no industrial legislation which dealt with wages in any form, except a provision that in a factory a young person should not receive less than 2s. 6d. per week. Industrial legislation is now going to be enacted, and I take it that it will apply pretty nearly all round. The employes in the saw-milling industry should be the first to get better conditions; at any rate, in the way of wages. I want to deal with the argument that it is necessary to import Baltic pine, Oregon pine, spruce, and other pines for the purpose of making house furnishings. I do not think that it is necessary at all. No doubt some honorable senators have seen a large number of such articles, such as doors and sashes made of local cedar in Queensland, and sent south, at any rate as far as Sydney. I do not say that they are sent all over the Commonwealth, for the simple reason that there has not been enough timber available to enable them to carry on the industry in such a way as to supply the whole market. There has not been any means of getting the timber to the coast. The large forests of pine which is capable of being used in making doors, sashes, and linings have not, so far, been tapped by the railways. It is impossible for timber-getters to draw the timber to any great distance, either to the coastor to the railways, because it would not pay. In Western Australia it has been found to be necessary to extend the lines, and removethe mills to the vicinity of the timber which has to be cut. In Queensland the drawback to which I have referred will be removed to a great ex tent, because railways are being run into the districts in which there are large areas of timber, especially pine. There is available an immense quantity o”f timber, which is suitable for making house furnishings. It is estimated, not only on the evidence of the head of the Forestry Department of Queensland, but by those engaged in the sawmill industry, that there is in that State about 3,000,000,000 feet of pine timber that will be available as soon as the railways are run out. Why should we import timber for house furnishings, such as doors, linings, ceilings, and window sashes, when it must of necessity come into competition with timber that we have in Australia ?
– Only in Queensland.
– When we ask why, apart from the question of the railways being run out, it is so hard to get Queensland timber in other parts of Australia, we find that the reason is that the freight from Queensland ports to the southern States is far greater than from the Old Country.’ Mr. Lahey, who gave evidence before the Tariff Commission in Queensland, is quoted on page 351 of the report of the protectionist section as saying -
The member of a .firm of timber merchants at Brisbane drew special attention to the disadvantage under which the timber industry of this State suffered owing to freight charges as compared with those oversea. He “had it” on the best authority that the freight on Baltic timber to Melbourne was equivalent to about is. lod. per too “feet of inch timber. The freight and wharfage on Queensland timber from Brisbane to Melbourne was 3s. 3d. for the same quantity.
That is a big advantage which the man outside is able to get over the Australian timber-getter. Senator Givens, in reply to Senator Pulsford’s argument that we have a big natural advantage, showed that there is no natural advantage whatever. I am satisfied that, for landing soft timber, especially from the Baltic, in Western Australia, the freight would be very little more than half that from Queensland. We have plenty of pine there that will keep the Commonwealth going for quite a number qf years, provided . that these railways are made, and we are able to get it down and on to the market. I do not know that the mining industry will suffer to a very .great extent by an “increased duty. It has been pointed out that there are only two places in Australia - Cobar and Broken Hill - that require oregon. In the rest of Australia, from one end to the other, imported timber is not used in the mines. In West- ern Australia, where there is a large amount of mining, going down pretty deep,- and consuming large quantifies of timber, imported timber is not wanted. They use the timber growing in their own State. In Queensland, not a solitary stick of oregon is brought in to do the timbering in mines. New South Wales is the only State in the Union where imported timber is. used for that purpose. I know that the imported timber goes up to Broken Hill from South Australia, but still it is used in New South Wales, which, therefore, is most interested. A duty of 6d. is not protective at all, but I am prepared to vote for a higher duty, believing that we can produce what timber we require. Senator Dobson is going to move a request for a duty of is. That is the amount “asked for by an expert who gave evidence in Queensland before the Tariff Commission. He said he believed that, with a duty of at least is. per 100 superficial feet on this class of timber coming into Australia, the Queensland industry, with the assistance of Government railways, would be able to hold its own. Why should not that protection be given? There are a large number of people engaged in Queensland in connexion with soft woods, apart from the hard woods altogether. The Wide Bay district has kept a considerable number of people going for some years. The only reason why the Queensland timber has not been available, and has not become much more popular, is that there was “practically no protection, and that the Government did not spend money in running railways out. As thev are spending now nearly half a million in - running railways out into the timber country, we also should give some little assistance to those people, not because it is the Queensland Government that is building the railways, but because a large number of people are engaged in timber getting,’ on the railways that bring the timber down to the coast, in the sawmills where the timber is cut up for use, and in the factories that are turning out door sashes and other house’ furnishings, which I believe they will export eventually, not only to Sydney, but to every other part of the Commonwealth. I am prepared to vote for Senator Dobson’ s request for a duty of is.
– I am sorry that my simple little proposition has raised such a storm of indignation and caused the flow of such torrents of eloquence from so-called free-trade
Senators. My only object was to make Oregon free, and I pointed out that other timbers are not brought here in the sizes which would make them free under my request. Oregon timber, as you, Mr. Chairman, know, does not come into competition with other kinds’ of pine for various building purposes. It is not used for skirting boards, architraves, or doors, because it is too full of resin. Senator McGregor stated that the hardwoods of “Victoria were suitable for building purposes. I interjected that this 6d. duty had been in force previously. There has not been a higher duty On oregon and other pines, and yet the Victorian hardwoods have not been used generally for building purposes. You, Mr. Chairman, who know more about the business than I do, because you were a practical worker in timber, pointed out the reason. You know that those hardwoods cannot te used for the purposes for which the -various softwoods are being used. Senator Turley. - Can Queensland pine mot te used for all house furnishings ? : Senator STORY. - Possibly it could, but the trouble is that timber merchants down south cannot get Queensland timber for love or money.
– I quite admit that there “has not- been the supply. Senator STORY. - I was informed not many months ago by an Adelaide timber merchant that he sent an order to Queensland over 18’ months before and could not get it executed.
– Only for silky oak. Senator STORY. - No, it was for pine. Only to-day, Mr. James Moore, one of the largest timber merchants’ in Australia, if not the largest, told me that when the Tariff was introduced in another place some months ago he sent an order foi 500,000 feet of pine of various sorts to five different timber-getters in Queensland, whom he considered most likely to supply it, and he did not get a single offer from one of them. What is the use of having timber in a country unless some one is prepared to get it out, apart altogether from the question of its suitability ? My contention is that oregon would not compete against the Queensland pines in the purposes for which it is used in the southern States. People in the building trade in South Australia are not going to Queensland to get pine to take the place of Oregon. The Queensland pine is very much heavier and harder to work when seasoned, and in every respect is not so suitable as Oregon for the .purposes for which Oregon is used. One of my reasons for moving that this paragraph be free was that the 6d. duty is purely a revenue one. It ‘will never have any other effect. I. am against revenue duties every time. I shall vote against duties unless they are protective. Another reason was that some of the duties in the other paragraphs in this item are not sufficiently protective. My experience of the Government is that, if a duty was agreed to somewhere else, they will oppose any increase here, and my object was partly to secure greater protection for some of the other paragraphs bv making this timber in large sizes free. My request would certainly have that effect.
– That, covers all other timber besides oregon.
– The quantity of other timber is very small. The return for 1906 shows that of oregon- of this size 51,500,558 feet was imported for the whole of Australia, while of every other kind of pine of the same sizes imported for the same period, from all parts of the world, including the United Kingdom, Burmah. Canada, India, Strait Settlements, Japan, and the United States of America, the quantity was less than 5,000,000 feet.
– Is it worth while taking that little drop of 5,000,000 feet out?
– I do not think it is worth while bothering about this little drop of” 6d. per 100 superficial feet. One of the objections to many of the Australian hardwoods - and this applies to jarrah - is that in seasoning it twists. Most of the Australian stringy bark will twist into all sorts of shapes while being seasoned.
– That sample looks twisted, does it not?
– The honorable senator knows as well as I do that most of the Australian hardwoods twist in seasoning. One of the’ handicaps which Western Australian jarrah has to contend with in the eastern States is that ‘it is used before it is properly seasoned. I have seen floors put down of Western Australian jarrah which looked beautiful for about a .week, and then cracks of fully a quarter of an inch showed. In other .cases I have seen it put down near the ground, and in a few months rise up like a bow in the middle to the extent of a foot, through the moisture in the ground affecting it. It could not expand lengthways, so it had to rise. That is one of the defects of jarrah which is not properly seasoned. It is difficult to get it seasoned, and in seasoning it twists almost like a corkscrew. I agree with many honorable senators that it is a good thing to encourage afforestation, and the planting of all kinds of timbers, but is it worth while to impose a duty now to protect the timber in a tree that has not yet been planted? I apprehend that within the next twenty years we shall have another revision of the Tariff, and if, when the Tariff is next revised, some trees which have not yet been planted are in a promising condition, the Senate at the time may be inclined to give them adequate protection.
– How would the honorable senator like us to apply the same argument to a number of articles on which he has voted for protective duties?
– I have voted for protective duties every time, but I have never, so far, voted wilfully for a revenue duty..
– Will the honorable senator vote for a duty of is. in this case?
– Will the honorable senator vote for a duty of is. 6d. or’ 2s. 6d.?
– T point out to the honorable senator that this is not a question of protection. We have no timber iri Australia to take the place of Oregon.
– Poor old Australia ! Queensland gets along well enough, and does not import an inch of oregon.
– We have no timber iri Australia to take the place of oregon. 1 do not know what timber they may have in Tasmania. In that State, perhaps, they find it cheaper to use the local timbers than to import timber. Senator Chataway. - I have heard the honorable senator say that Ave can grow and produce everything in Australia.
– So we can, but we are not ready for this yet. In the case of manufacturing industries, where we have ‘ facilities in Australia for the production of all the raw material required, I have been willing to vote for high duties. I point out that oregon does not come into competition with Australian woods. As Senator Pearce has pointed out, we might make the duty 2s. per 100 superficial feet, and Oregon would still be used in most of the States cn as large quantities as it is now used, whilst the duty would simply be a tax on people who have houses to build or require that timber for other purposes.
– How is it that we do not use oregon’ in Queensland for any purpose ?
– I do not know that1 in Queensland people do not use oregon, but I am prepared to accept Senator. Turley’s assurance that they do not. 1
– -They do not, because thev have other timber on the ground.
– My reply ls that they must have other timber that answers ‘ the purposes for which oregon is used in the other States. ‘
– I thought the honorable senator said there was no such timber in Australia ? ‘
– I have already pointed out that we cannot get it in the other States.
– Because people have not tried to get it.
– I have told honorable senators that a timber merchant in Ade!laide informed me that he had been waiting for eighteen months, and could notget an order for timber fulfilled. 1
– Was that for timber to take the place of oregon? It shouldnot be. quoted if it was not.
– No, it was for silky oak.
– I’ have also said tha?Mr. Moore, of Melbourne, told me that a very large quantity of New Zealand pine is shipped to Brisbane for the purpose of making butter-boxes.
– Not a very large quantity, but some New Zealand pine is imported.
– Is it not strange that if Queensland has such a plentiful supply of timber suitable for all purposes, New Zealand pine cut into lengths in Sydney, should be sent to Brisbane for the manufacture of butter-boxes?
– One hundred and sixty, thousand superficial feet were imported last vear.
– Does that not show that they have not suitable timber for the purpose in Brisbane, or have not sufficient ‘ quantities, of it?
– It shows that a few people have a prejudice against .the local timbers.
– It shows’ that- the people in Queensland have not suitable timber or have not sufficient enterprise to put the local timber on the market in sufficient quantities. If my request were carried, and every honorable senator who does not favour revenue duties should vote for it, the request suggested by Senator Chataway might still be adopted. If my request be not carried, the duty will be 5 per cent., and if it be carried,’ the item will be free, until the proclamation is issued, indicating that sufficient suitable timber is being produced in the Commonwealth to supply the local demand.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to. support my request?
– If my request is carried, I shall have no objection to support Senator Chataway’s request. I shall not object to the imposition of a duty if both Houses of Parliament are satisfied that we have a sufficient supply of a local timber that can take the place of Oregon for the purposes for which it is now being used.
– - Before Senator Story’s request goes to a vote, I wish to point out that it may be necessary to move a prior request. Before we deal with the duty, I think it. is necessary that’ we should consider a request to reinsert the asterisk which appeared in the Tariff as at first introduced in another place, with a view to re-inserting the foot-note to which it referred as a definition of a superficial foot. This was deleted in another place. It defined a superficial foot in the following terms - “A superficial foot’ of timber shall mean an area of 1 square foot on one surface and being 1 inch or less in thickness.”
– That is the trade definition.
– Not everywhere.
– ‘ Under the schedule, as now before honorable senators, a board £ inch thick of 100 superficial feet would pay duty only as 50 superficial fee*. I take it that the general trade desire is that the definition of a superficial foot should be clear and distinct, and that it should” mean 1 foot square and 1 inch or less in thickness.
– That could be dealt with at the end of the item.
– I am proposing to deal with it where it was dealt with in’ the Tariff as originally introduced in another place. The point, however, is not as to where the definition should be in serted, but I am afraid that if I miss this opportunity to direct the attention of the Government to tha ‘necessity for introducing the definition, I may have no opportunity to do so later on. I know that in other cases we have imposed duties with the object of securing the importation of articles in a comparatively rough state, in order that employment might be given to people in Australia to complete their preparation for ihe market. Honorable senators will see that if boards Jinch in thickness can be imported, four of such boards will only give the same superficial area for the collection of the duty .as- would one board that was 1 inch thick.
– The honorable senator’s proposition is to double the duty in the case of boards £ an inch thick, and quadruple it in the case of boards a j-inch in thickness?
– My object is to back up the Government, and they sadly need backing up, in carrying the Tariff in the form in which they originally introduced if.
– The Government do not want the Tariff as they originally introduced it.
– That is their look out, not mine. I think it is desirable that there should be a clear definition in the Tariff of what is meant by a superficial foot. The absence of a definition in the past has led to continual disputes between timber importers and the Customs authorities. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission dealt with this matter in their report, and recommended the definition to which I have referred. I admit that Sir John Quick, in referring to the matter in the report, or in some speech on the subject in another place, said he was not personally in favour of the definition recommended, but that the matter was pressed so strongly upon the Commission that he thought it necessary to sign the report recommending it to the Government, in order that it might be considered by Parliament. I know that there is a strong desire on the part of people connected with the limber industry in Queensland for the re-insertion of the definition as it originally appeared in the Tariff. The Director of Forests of Queensland, who is a very competent official, and who has published an excellent work on the commercial timbers of Queensland, which I should like some honorable senators to see before they finally decide that Queensland has no timber suitable for .the rest of Australia, says in some notes which he has supplied to honorable senators from Queensland -
The restoration of the definition of a superficial foot is- urgently asked by all timber workers in Queensland. As the matter stands at present there is a great inducement to have the sawing of thin boards done in the cheap labour countries which export the timber, thus saving the cost of the more expensive Australian labour, also of the part removed by the saw and the freight thereon. The matter was most exhaustively explained to the Tariff Commission, hence their insertion of the definition.
I ask Senator Story whether he will be good enough to give me an opportunity, by withdrawing his request temporarily, to move a request for the re-insertion of the asterisk after the word “ foot,” with a view to restoring the foot-note which was struck out in another place?
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.52]. - I point out that there is no necessity for introducing the asterisk, as Senator Chataway can deal with the matter to which he has referred at the end of the item. If there is to be a definition of what a superficial foot means, anywhere in the Tariff it will cover the timber included in this item. What the honorable senator suggests, However, raises another question, since if we define a superficial foot to be 12 inches square, 1 inch in thickness, boards J-inch or J-inch thick will have to pay quadruple and double the duty respectively. It would be tetter to consider the point raised at end of the item.
– With regard to Senator Chataway’s statement, that he is backing up what the Government originally proposed, I wish to say that it is true that the protectionist section of the Tariff . Commission made a recommendation of this kind, and in the Tariff, as submitted in another place, provision was made for the definition of a. superficial foot, which was to be 12 inches By 12 inches, with a thickness of 1 inch or less.
– -A very good definition.
– It was pointed out by my honorable colleague, the Treasurer, in another place, that it’ was not advisable to stand by that definition, as under it timber J-inch or J-inch in thickness would carry double or quadruple the duty proposed. Consequently he decided to adopt the pre-existing practice in the Customs Department, which was in consonance with the trade practice, and to regard a superficial foot as 12 inches by 12 inches and 1 inch thick. Under the definition proposed a board J-inch thick, 12 inches by 12 inches, would contain only half a superficial foot, and a board a J-inch thick, 12 inches by 12 inches, would contain only a quarter of a superficial foot,, and four of such hoards would be required to make 1 superficial foot. The Treasurer, in the circumstances, when the item was readied, and without debate on the question, decided to revert to the preexisting practice of the Department.
– - Some charmingly new views have been introduced into the debate on the duties under consideration ; and they make it a sufficient excuse for me to say a word or two. During the earlier part of the debate, congratulations were offered by honorable senators opposite to some of those who sit on the Opposition side of the Chamber. But that was displaying an amount of partiality to which I can be no party. Some congratulations ought to be offered to Senator Story and other honorable senators who sit near him, who have introduced themselves in a new character, and have shown evidence of the dawning light of free-trade upon their minds. No honorable senator has been more definite in his statements that Australia is capable of producing anything, or growing anything, than Senator Story has been ; and if any one ventured to suggest that there were possibly some- things that could be produced better in other countries, they were at once accused of being Little Australians. For that reason, I am particularly glad that even at this eleventh hour the truth has begun to dawn even upon Senator Story’s mind, that there may possibly be something which, with all its advantages, Australia cannot very well produce, perhaps because of climatic or other unfavorable conditions. He has asked us to request a striking out of the duty. Other honorable senators propose to increase the duty to is., or higher, if they can get “it. Now on the top of those propositions, Senator Chataway comes forward with one which would have the effect of making the duty 4s. instead of 6d. as proposed by the Tariff. In other words, Senator Chataway’s proposition is for a duty of is., plus a system of measurement of which he now gives notice, which would multiply the duty by two or four as the case may be; and, subsequently, if the duty is made is. 6d. per 100 feet super., it. will become, under his system, a duty of 35. or 6s. So that there is a wide range of duties for honorable senators to choose from, varying from nothing to 6s. I am not complaining of the variety of range, but of the difficulty of making a final choice. Senator Chataway has acquired from the Director of Forestry in his State - a gentleman whose opinion must be accepted with a great deal of respect - certain information which he has given to the Committee. While I intend to respect that gentleman’s statement, I find, nevertheless, that the first assertion which he makes in it is absolutely contradicted by the official figures. The gentleman quoted by Senator Chataway refers to the timber that is drawn from the cheap labour countries of the world. Now, the total imports of this timber other than oregon which come to ‘Australia from the cheap labour countries are under 500,000 feet super. On the other hand, a great quantity comes from the United States and Canada, and I hardly think that any one will say that the wages in America for this class of work are less than those paid here. So that I am driven to the conclusion that Mr. McMahon- has allowed his zeal for the Department under his control to carry him to the length of ignoring the official facts which are as open to his in- spection as thev are to mine. There is another remark in the document emanating from Mr. McMahon as to which I will say a word. He says -
In Queensland the timber revenue - which I assume to be from royalties paid on timber obtained - has risen from ,£14,000 to ^22,000 in one year alone,
– I expect that that would be licence fees, or something of that kind.
– The figures are, at any rate, indicative of the expansion of the timber trade in Queensland, and for stum page charges only. I do not know what those charges are, but, at all events, there is an indication that the timber industry has expanded in one year a little over 50 per cent. It cannot, therefore, be said that the industry is a struggling one, and that there is any need of further assistance. If an industry has. expanded ‘by 50 per cent, in twelve months it cannot be in much need of assistance. But it is curious that while that expansion has been taking place, it has been impossible for timber merchants inmy own State to get their orders supplied from Queensland. Senator Turley admitted that, under existing conditions, there was a difficulty in fulfilling orders from the other States. Those two facts, taken together - the expansion of the industry as shown in the official figures and the difficulty of supplying outside orders - are sufficient to show that the Queensland timber industry is progressing very satisfactorily. Under these circumstances, I fail to see how Queensland can ask the other States to penalize themselves until she is in a position to meet their requirements. She is not in a position to do that at present. Therefore, the contingent duty to be proposed by Senator Chataway has very much, more to recommend it, whether from a free-trade or a protectionist stand-point, than .have either of the proposals to increase duties immediately. I have grave doubts as to whether the proposed division Xa. will be effective; but, at least, before it can.be given effect to, Parliament will have an ample opportunity of inquiring into the matter. Every honorable senator will have a chance of making up his mind directly upon this one item, without confusing the issue with difficulties in regard to a thousand items in the whole Tariff. He will be able to sift the information placed before him, and come to a reasonable determination. In the meantime, the position with regard to timber generally will ‘ be left as at present. Reverting to the statement which I made just now that the timber industry is not in need of Tariff encouragement, I point out to honorable senators that in spite of all that has been said - rather loosely, I am afraid - about cheap foreign goods, it is quite evident that during the period since the first Federal Tariff was imposed, the price of timber in Australia has gone up considerably. It is rather singular that the arguments being used to-day in favour of these duties are those which were used six years ago. We were told then practically that without a duty the industry would be conducted under a very serious handicap. But what has 1 happened ? . The people in the trade tu-day are getting more for their timber than the amount of the duty which they ask for. The amount which they asked for then was is. 6d. >per 100 feet superficial.. The price of timber has gone up very much more than1s. 6d.So that without any duty at all, the timber people to-day are in a better position than they were six years ago.
– The price then was a starvation price.
– And wages have gone up.
– The one follows the other. As they have now a rate above what they asked Parliament to impose by way of duty six years ago, as wages have gone up, and as they have got this without any legislative enactment, it cannot be denied that the millers have no more claims upon us than they had six years ago, and have not been prejudiced by the refusal of Parliament to give them higher duties.
– It is not proposed to give them higher duties at present.
– My honorable friend knows that there is a proposal to impose a duty contingent on certain things happening; and Senator Dobson, lacking that patience which usually marks him, is not content to wait for that period. He wants to raise the duty immediately. My inclination in this matter would be tomake the item entirely free. I do not believe thatoregon comes into competition, generally speaking, with any timber that Australia is producing to-day.
– The imported timber is not all Oregon.
– The imports of
Oregon, undressed, amount to 51,000,000 feet. Of the 5,000,000 superficial feet of other timber imported in connexion with this item, only about 450,000 superficial feet come from cheap-labour countries. That quantity is not worth talking about. The solid fact remains that 51,000,000 feet of this undresesd Oregon are imported in a way that puts it beyond competition with any Australian timber. I ask the Queensland senators to remember that although nature has been good to them in giving them an ample supply of timber alongside their mines, there are other parts of Australia that are not so blessed, and where the people have to get their timber from somewhere. Senator Turley practically undermined his own position in admitting that he is asking for a duty to compel the mine-owners of Cobar and Broken Hill to use Queensland timber.
– Not Queensland timber only.
– He is asking for a duty to compel the mine-owners, who use light and satisfactory Oregon, to use heavy, and possibly equally satisfactory, Australian timber. But if they did, the freights would kill them every time. It would cost them from £4 to£6 in extra freight for every£5 they put into the pockets of the Queensland saw-millers. The trouble is not so much with regard to the timber itself, as with regard to the freight charges. I am not going to argue that Australian timber cannot be used. But it cannot be denied that, from the merest novicein a mine up to the mine managers, every one concerned is unanimous in believing that
Oregon is the best timber for their work.
– The South Australian Railway Department would not object to the extra freight ; and they can lower their freights if they like.
– I am not going to vote to put on a duty to swell the railway revenue of any State without conferring any benefit on any one. The argument is that the effect of the duty will be to convert the mine-owners of Cobar and Broken Hill from the use of Oregon into the use of Australian timber. The effect of that will be largely to increase their freight bill, and I do not think that that is a desirable thing, especially as the effect will be to close down some of the less prosperous mines of Australia. As, however, there was a duty of 6d. upon Oregon under the old Tariff, although I can see no justification for it, nor can I regard it as anything but a revenue duty, still I am not inclined to take the duty away. I cannot support it in the sense of advocating it, but, as it was in the 1902 Tariff, I shall vote to leave it as it is, just as I voted to keep a duty of 12½ per cent. on steel rails. As I have said before, I am not disposed to take away any protection that existed under the 1902 Tariff. Therefore, I shall vote against Senator Story’s proposal, and against any other that seeks to disturb the status quo.
– Senator Millen has dealt with the question of charging the duty on only the actual quantity of timber imported. This old standing grievance has been brought under the notice of the Treasurer on, I suppose, a dozen occasions by different persons engaged in the sawmilling industry. What they have always contended - and I think that the Treasurer generally has agreed with their contention - has been that timber less than i inch thick should be charged duty as if iti were an inch thick. I believe that relief to that extent was promised to various deputations whenever the matter was brought before the Parliament. I know that from Queensland the matter has been represented quite a number of times. One witness gave evidence on the subject before the Tariff Commission, and I presume that it was on his evidence that the protectionist section based the following recommendation : -
That a superficial foot be defined as follows : - “ A superficial foot of timber shall mean an area of i square foot on one surface, and being i inch or less in thickness.”
That has been, I believe, the usual practice in connexion with timber generally. The report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission contains this statement -
As an illustration of the result of the present practice, the witness stated that the duty on 800 feet of Baltic dressed boards § inches thick would be is. 1 1/2 d. per 100 feet, or 9s. in all, whereas the duty, according to a’ strictly legal interpretation of the Act, should be 24s., namely 3s. per 100 feet super. If imported in flitches 5 inches thick, the timber necessary to cut 800 feet of f-inch boards would be subject- to a duty of 7s. 6d., or is. 6d. per 100 feet. The same quantity of timber imported in the latter form would require an expenditure of £1 to convert into f-inch dressed boards, namely 12s. for sawing and 8s. for dressing. For every 800 feet of timber imported in f-inch boards the revenue suffers to the extent of 15s., and Australian workmen lose £1 in wages. Under present conditions inducement is given to cut up and dress timber in foreign countries, which is contrary to the intention of the Tariff.
We have dealt with many matters on very much the same lines wherever it has been possible to provide that the work should be done in Australia. We know very well that if an importer wants timber less than an inch thick he will get it cut outside, because he can get it done more cheaply there than here.
– Then it will come in as dressed timber.
– Yes. Senator Chataway has inquired whether this would be the right place in which to submit a request to restore the definition of a superficial foot of timber which appeared in the schedule originally. Senator Story has expressed his willingness to withdraw his request temporarily, and if we want to protect the interests of Australian workmen a proposal to that effect should be made now, because the saw-miller can import his timber in any thickness he likes above 1 inch.
– Senator McColl, I do not think that you were in the chair when I suggested that I might move a request for an asterisk to be inserted after the word “ feet “ with a view later on to submit a request for the restoration of the foot-note which was in the Tariff when it was submitted to the other House. I have already given some reasons for taking that course, and Senator Turley has backed them up much more ably than I could do. ‘ I think that the Minister might give some reason other than the mere statement that when the Bill came before another place the Treasurer rose and said that he thought that they ought to revert to the old method of measuring timber. If that is the only reason to be advanced for a reversion to the old method of measuring, I want to know why he does not revert to the old Tariff ? I desire to ascertain from you, sir, whether if Senator Story’s request be withdrawn temporarily I should be in order in submitting the request I have outlined?
– In my ‘ opinion it is not necessary to insert an asterisk after the word “ feet “ or anywhere else. If it is a proper place at which to give information an asterisk can be inserted when the Tariff is finished and printed.
– Do we want an asterisk at all?
– I agree with the honorable senator that it is not wanted, but if it were thought necessary, it would only Be inserted to attract attention. It is no part of our duty to request its insertion. I agree with all those who say that a superficial foot of timber should be a foot of timber 1 inch or less in thickness. When it is, realized that things can be manipulated in the manner which has been stated, it will be recognised that it is very desirable to make some definite provision. It has been stated by an honorable senator that in the past it has been the custom to allow for a thickness of 1 inch in measuring the superficial area of timber. .That has not been the universal practice. It has been the practice in some States to measure the timber in one way and in other States in another way. When we are framing a Tariff we ought to fix a practice. I am of opinion that in the measuring of a board an inch should be taken to mean an inch or less in thickness. Before the Tariff Commission, some merchants made a great complaint that in the case of shelving they had to pay for a whole inch, although- the board measured only seven-eighths of an inch thick by eleven and three-quarter inches in width, and they claimed that a deduction should be made. What blocked them from getting that concession under some of the State systems of measurement was that the shelving had been invoiced as measuring 12 inches by 1 inch. This applies more particularly to timber dressed than to undressed timber. So far as paragraph a is concerned, it does not apply at all because it relates to timber in sizes measuring from 12 inches to 6 inches, or its equivalent. Dressed timber, however, is brought in in thicknesses ranging from one quarter inch up to five-eighths inch or even seveneights inch and often it is dressed on both sides. Very likely if it is quarter -inch timber it is dressed on both sides, and four dressed boards are put together to make 1 inch in thickness. That is not. the intention of the Tariff. Its object is to protect the workers in the dressing of timber. If we were to allow men to bring in four quarter-inch boards dressed on both sides as 1 inch of timber, that object would be frustrated. The evidence of some witnesses before the Tariff Commission was to the effect that if it were dressed on both sides it ought to be measured on both sides. I am sure that Senators Millen and Symon would raise a loud cry if they found that a board one quarter of an inch thick, and dressed on both sides, was dutiable, as if it were 2 inches thick.
– I should be too shocked to say anything.
– Still if we abide by the principles of the Tariff, it must be admitted that it ought to be adopted for both sides, because the extra duty is not imposed on the actual amount of timber, but in respect of the work which is expended thereon. We should charge the same duty on the timber in the rough as on the dressed timber if we had riot that point in view. The more labour that is spent on the dressing (of (timber the higher the duty will be. Suppose that a duty of 3s. 6d. or 2s. 6d. were levied on a board measuring 12 inches wide, is inches long, and 1 inch thick, and a man were allowed to put together four quarterinch boards, dressed .on both sides, to make up 1 inch in thickness, what would be imported? Would not the thinner boards, dressed on both sides, rather than the timber in the rough be imported from countries where probably they have the necessary machinery right to their hands, and as cheap labour as we have here? It has been shown that by those means not only the workers in Australia would be deprived of work, but the Government would be deprived of revenue. When we come to dressed timber, I hope a proper definition of superficial feet will be inserted. So far as the undressed timber is concerned, an inch in thickness is the proper thing, but in regard to dressed timber we ought to make it very clear that it means an inch or less in thickness.
– I consider that this is not the proper place to insert the definition of superficial foot, lt ought to come in later, at the end of the item, because there are several paragraphs dealing with dressed limber. The first paragraphs deal only with undressed timber, and the definition ought not to be put in at this stage.
– Does that mean that the asterisk will have to be put in when we come to paragraph d?
– I do not think that it is necessary to put in an asterisk at all. We can insert a note at the end of the item, specifying what a superficial foot means.
– I do not suppose that you, sir, will give a prophetic ruling as to some item which we have not yet reached.
– I am dealing only with the question of inserting the definition at this particular stage.
– It has been said that the additional duty will be a serious expense to certain mines which use oregon timber. The Australasian Joint Slock Companies’ Year-Hook shows that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company alone, from 1884 to 1906, paid ,£8,200,000 in dividends, and £712,000 in bonuses, or practically £9.000,000 in all, an average of £370,000 yearly paid to the shareholders. If we allow an increased cost of rs. per foot on all the oregon timber which goes into Broken Hill in one year, whether it is used for mines or buildings, the total amount of the duty that will be paid on it will come to £7,500 That is not a very large amount when set off against £370,000, the yearly profits of one mine alone.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 303, paragraph a, free (Senator Story’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative’. Request negatived.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 303, paragraph a, is. per too super, feet.
Under the old Tariff the duty was 6d. on oregon, New Zealand pine was free, and the rate on all other timber was is. 1 am practically asking the Committee now to increase the duty on oregon by 6d.
– Make it 2s.
– I cannot do that. I am a moderate protectionist, and do not desire to cripple the mining industry, but it is only right that the’ timber industry should enjoy a Reasonable share of the benefit of the protective policy which the electors have said the Commonwealth ought to adopt. That is all I am making the proposal for. The timber millers ask for justice, and I am frying to give them justice. If honorable senators think they ought to be put off without justice, or without a modicum of the protection which almost every other industry is getting, I cannot agree with them. ‘I listened with great interest to what Senator Pearce and Senator Pulsford said, but there is something to be urged against them. I am aware that soft timber must come in for certain purposes, but I believe that if we go in for scientific forestry, and have a moderate protective duty, our timbers will come more and more into use, for we have in the various States almost every quality of timber that we desire. Tasmanian stringy bark flooring is being extensively used, and would be more so with the help ‘of a duty. I believe that it is used - and this goes to show that there is no occasion to import Baltic pine,
Oregon, or anything else for flooring - in the following buildings - Receiving Home, North Melbourne ; new hospital, Royal Park ; several State schools, both town and country; Melbourne Cricket Ground new grand stand, and the1 new baths at St. Kilda. In the two last named the stringy bark flooring was specified by the architect. A stock of some 800,000 feet is on hand, and there will be orders shortly for about 1,500,000 feet more. This shows that the stringy bark flooring is in great demand, and why it is not entitled to moderate protection 1 do not know. The railways for two years have given continuous contracts for the supply of this wood. I have a certificate from Mr. H. V. McKay, of the Sunshine Harvester Works, as follows : -
In reply to your inquiry regarding my opinion of the Tasmanian stringy bark- flooring, 4^ by J, which I have ‘used extensively for floors at ‘my works at Sunshine, and also I have had my own dwelling floored with it, I have the highest opinion of its quality and durability. Our floors are most satisfactory, and this timber stands traffic of all kinds much better than the imported limbers. You have an order in hand to supply, and I shall continue to order it, which certainly shows my confidence in this class of flooring.
The secretary of the Victorian RailwaysCommissioners writes : -
In reply to your letter, I am directed by the Commissioners to- intimate that Tasmanian seasoned flooring, lining, and weatherboards have been extensively used by this Department and found to be satisfactory.
That shows that in many of the cases where soft timber has been used, there is no occasion to use it, because the people who have tried the Tasmanian and other hardwoods say that they are eminently satisfactory. Honorable senators seem to forget that the timber industry is like every other industry. It can be encouraged by a duty, I hope that the railways will encourage it by cheaper freights, and it can be encouraged by the use of the product. Seeing the enormous fortunes that some men have put into the industry, I hope that justice will be done)” and that my request will be agreed to.
– - Before we take a vote, I should like to point out, especially, to my protec’tionist friends, including Senator Dobson, that if they vote for a duty of is. on this paragraph, they will be practically reducing the duties on all the subsequent paragraphs. Honorable senators will observe that the rates of duty increase as the sizes of the timber diminish. One of my objects in moving that paragraph a of this item should be free was that it would mean an increase of the duties on the smaller sizes of timber. If we have a duty of is. per superficial foot on the large sizes of timber, and of only 2s. per superficial foot on the smaller sizes, the effect is the same as the reduction of the duty on the smaller sizes by 6d. per superficial foot. Honorable senators who claim in this matter to represent the interests of labour will notice that all the , evidence given before the Tariff Commission by the members of labour unions was in favour of a low duty on the first paragraph of the item, or that the timber included in it should be admitted free, and in favour of higher .rates of duty than those recommended by the Tariff Commission on the subsequent paragraphs. I direct attention to this in order that honorable senators may not inadvertently defeat their intention to protect Australian labour. Our experience is that the Government will vote against the proposed increase of duty on the subsequent items if there has been any agreement in connexion with them in another place, and I emphasize the fact that by increasing the duty on paragraph a of the item, the effect will be to practically reduce the duties on the timbers included in the subsequent paragraphs of the item.
– I hope the Committee will not vote for an increased duty on paragraph a of this item.
– Even though it has been proposed by Senator Dobson ?
– Not even then. I think- that the duty provided for in the’ schedule affords the industry all the protection it requires. It would be a mistake to increase it for another reason which has not yet been urged. In another place there was a great deal of discussion upon this sub-item, and the division list shows that even the duty of 6d. was carried only by a majority of two. I therefore see no possible hope that such a request as that submitted by Senator Dobson would be accepted in another place. As all the reasons advanced appear to me to establish the fact that the duty provided for in the schedule is sufficiently high, I shall vote against Senator Dobson’s request.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [7.59]. - I hope the Minister of Home Affairs will not think me unduly pressing if I suggest that it would be well that the Committee should know whether the Government intend to support the request which has been submitted for an inincrease of this duty by 100 per cent.
– I have to say in reply to the honorable senator that the duty proposed bv the Government as the Tariff was originally introduced was is. 6d., not alone upon the timbers contained in paragraph a, but also upon New Zealand pine, now contained in paragraph b. In another place, mainly because New Zealand pine and oregon were included in the one paragraph of the item, strong opposition was manifested to the imposition of any duty at all. It was thought at one stage of the discussion that an .amendment to free the whole of the timbers contained now inparagraphs a and b would be successful, and my honorable colleague, the Treasurer, succeeded in getting honorable members in another place to agree to put New Zealand .pine in a. separate paragraph, and leave the timbers included in paragraph a dutiable at 6d. per 100 superficial feet after the 6th December, 1907. The Government are prepared to support the request now submitted to make the duty is. Under the 1902 Tariff the duty on oregon was 6d., New Zealand pine was free, but on all other timber undressed n.e.i. the duty was is. As a matter of fact, if the House of Representatives does not see its way to agree to the request, should we carry it, to make the duty in this case is., the duties which would operate would not be the same as before, the duty on New Zealand pine would be 6d. instead of free, but on other timber 6d. per 100 superficial feet instead of is.y as “under” the 1902 Tariff. In the circumstances, we propose to support the request moved by Senator Dobson.
– I shall not say that I have been surprised to hear the statement of the Minister of Home Affairs, because it is quite in accord with what has transpired in connexion with previous items. I have risen only to affirm that this is another instance in which Ministers are departing from an arrangement deliberately made elsewhere. An arrangement was made elsewhere, and discussion took place in regard to it. As a result of the arrangement that was come to, where there was but one paragraph we Snow have two, and on paragraph a a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet was decided upon. The Minister of Home Affairs now says that he intends to depart from the arrangement made by his colleague elsewhere, and apparently for no other reason than that he thinks that by so doing he will please a number of the supporters of the Government in this Chamber.
– I wish to say with respect to Senator Millen’s concluding remarks that there is no member of the Committee who has so repeatedly, in season and out of season, referred to the action of the Government in certain circumstances as calculated to impair the authority and standing of the Senate.
– The honorable senator was not talking of this Chamber, but of the Government.
– I am just going to deal with that. As a matter of fact, as I have already pointed out, there was a disposition on the part of a number of honorable members in another place to have no duty at all upon these items, largely because they included at that time in the one paragraph oregon and New Zealand pine. My honorable colleague, the Treasurer, did what he could with honorable members in another place, and succeeded in getting a duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet on the timber included in paragraph a of the schedule as it stands. Does any one believe that when my honorable colleague, in order to save the item as a dutiable item at all, secured all he could get from honorable members in another place, the matter should entirely stop there and then? What bargain, what arrangement, what compact or contract was entered into in the circumstances I have detailed?
There have been certain cases, I admit, where in another place the Minister in charge of the Tariff has taken up a certain attitude for the Government as a whole. But the honorable gentleman got what he could on this occasion, and if Senator Millen’s contention were to be upheld, it would mean that from that moment the minds of members of the Government were to be absolutely unreceptive, their eyes closed, and their ears dulled, and no matter what circumstances might be presented to their senses afterwards, they would not in this Chamber be justified in submitting, or in agreeing to an alternative proposed, but should adhere to the decision arrived at in another place. I do not think it will be argued that such a contention is sound. We are dealing with a multiplicity of details in framing the Tariff, and surely it is not to be contended that because my honorable colleague the Treasurer, in the circumstances in which he was placed, took a certain course of action, we should absolutely blind our eyes and dull our ears to any representations made on the floor of this chamber or elsewhere? What we ask in the circumstances is, that my honorable colleague the Treasurer shall be requested to ask honorable members in another place to reconsider their decision.
– I recommend the Minister to look at page 7100 of Hansard.
– I have read the debate which took place in the House of Representatives, and I say that the Treasurer got all that he could get from the Committee there, minded, as honorable members were, in view of the data before them. But if certain other data were submitted to my honorable colleague the Treasurer, it would be not only his privilege, but his duty to put it before honorable members in another place, and ask them, before they finally dealt with the Tariff, to reconsider their decision. That is all that we propose on this occasion.
– I wish only to reiterate my statement that an absolute arrangement was come to between the leaders in another place. Not only is that so, but the Minister in charge of the Tariff there was subjected to criticism, because some honorable members had not been informed, and he justified the arrangement come to on the ground that it was necessary for the expeditious conduct of the business of the Committee.
– In another place.
– I have specially consulted the Treasurer on the subject, and he said that in this matter, there was no compact nor anything approaching a compact.
– There is the printed document.
– I never so much regretted that it is not possible in this chamber to quote from the reports of debates in another place. All I can say is that, rather than take the statement of any one in public life, we turn to the printed records, and I direct the attention of honorable senators to pages 7097, 7098, and 7100 of Hansard.
– The Treasurer was driven into a certain position.
– It cannot be suggested that the Treasurer is driven into a certain position when, before a vote is taken on a matter, ah arrangement is openly made and defended on the floor of the House. Ministers have told us that where arrangements have been come to elsewhere, they will stand by them, but now they are not only departing- from that, but attempting to twist the printed records which disclose the arrangement made in connexion with this matter.
– The honorable senator might say that with regard to every part of a Bill we were discussing.
– I am not surprised that the Minister of Home Affairs should say that. He is only doing now what it has become customary for Ministers to do in this chamber. Where an arrangement has been come to elsewhere, even though it should be in black and white, they are prepared to depart from it.
– For whom does the leader of the Opposition in another place make -arrangements here?
– The Minister is not going to escape in that way. I do not agree that any arrangements made in another place bind honorable senators on this side.
– They bind the Government, but not honorable senators opposite?
– We shall not have any compacts of that kind.
– If there is to be any collective responsibility in the Cabinet, and any value attaching to what we call responsible Government, the Cabinet should act as a whole.
– The honorable senator proposes that compacts should be binding upon us, but not upon himself. ‘
– If the Minister finds his position as one of a Cabinet with whose views he is not in harmony intolerable, he has his remedy. But so long as government is carried on as we think responsible government ought to be, the Government should act as a whole, and we should not have individual members of the Ministry taking divergent, and it may be opposite courses. The Minister knows that no arrangements; which his Government can make can bind any one here, but it ought to bind the members of the Government, and yet we find the members of the Government leading the attack upon such an arrangement, for that is what they are doing now:
– No ; and I am sure Senator Millen would forgive them if that were what they are doing.
– Senator Mulcahy has put the position with absolute faithfulness. Had the Government themselves seen the necessity for a higher duty, it might have been incumbent upon ‘ them to come down, to this Committee and take the responsibility of proposing it. Senator Keating has spoken of additional information having been supplied to his colleagues. What is that additional information? Surely if it were sufficient to induce the Government to break a compact entered into elsewhere, it should have been sufficient to be placed before honorable senators here. But we have not had a single reason advanced by the Minister to show that 6d. is not sufficient and that a duty of is. should be imposed.
– With whom was the compact made?
– By Sir William Lyne with Mr. Dugald Thomson. If the Minister will refer to Hansard he will. see that Sir William Lyne had made an arrangement with the heads of the other party. That is clear and definite enough. I only wish to say in conclusion, referring to what I was dealing with just now, that honorable senators must recognise a very considerable difference between an arrangement made and entered into by the Government, or by one of its members, the position of the members of the Government so bound, and the position of the Opposition in this Chamber. If the doctrine laid down by the Minister is to be given effect to, that Ministers can enter into an arrangement anywhere or on any subject, and that such an arrangement can be repudiated by their colleagues, although it has been made in the name of and on behalf of the Government, I have only to say that if such an arrangement were concluded by the Government with an ordinary business firm and were repudiated by them, the effect would simply be that some of my legal friends would be given work to do, and the Government would have to pay the penalty for such a breach of agreement.
– I am satisfied that an arrangement was made in another place. Sir William Lyne himself moved that the duty be 6d. per100 feet super. If that was not an arrangement made on behalf of the Government what could be ? I want to explain my position in this matter, as a very moderate Tariffist. I voted against the request that the item be made free, but I am going to vote against a higher duty than 6d. per 100 feet, that is, the present rate, because I think that that rate of duty should be allowed to the people in my own State and to the other persons in the Commonwealth who are interested in the timber trade. But at the same time I do not think that soft timbers would be kept out of Australia, nor is it desirable that they should be. Soft timbers are required not only very often by architects, but by workmen also. Many of our hardwoods as soon as they are dry have a tendency to split. It seems to be difficult to dry them evenly, and they are very apt to warp, twist, or crack. They are very useful for many purposes, but there are drawbacks to their use.
– Will not Oregon pine crack too?
– All timbers will crack under certain circumstances. One important point that we ought to consider is, that if we are going to encourage the use of our Australian timbers without first of all having a good Forestry Department, a time will very soon come when we shall be landed in difficulties. We are exporting sleepers very largely to South Africa, India, and even China. I really think they should carry an export duty.
– That is the sort of protectionist the honorable senator is. There is no humbug about that.
– For the sake of our primary industries I am inclined to think that railway sleepers ought not be allowed to go out of the country wholesale. We shall want these timbers in a very short time. We have not very large forests in Australia. I am told that the supply of Queensland timber is. after all, very limited, and that 3,000,000 feet is all that can be obtained at the present time.
– Ridiculous ! Don’t talk rubbish !
– I have that fact from those in the trade who know what they are talking about, and who have no interest one way or the other.
– If the honorable senator said 300,000,000 feet he might be somewhat near the mark.
– I shall vote against a higher duty than 6d.
– There are two honorable senators in this Chamber who represent the Government, and who ought, at any rate, to be bound by a moral obligation entered into on behalf of the Government. They ought to stand by their obligations. When they attempt to lecture the Committee because some of us think that they are not following out the theory of responsible government, they try to makeout that Senate rights are being infringed by such a demand as that made upon them. I have no personal knowledge of what arrangement was made in another place, and it does not influence my vote on this question. But when a member of the Government stands up and says that we are attempting to infringe the rights of the Senate because we say that the Government should respect obligations entered into in another place, I say that that is an utterly wrong position to set up.
– That is a very weak argument.
– It is by no means a weak argument. In another place an honorable compact was entered into - by whom ? Not by this Committee, nor by any one present, but by a member of the Cabinet representing the Government. For the Minister of Home Affairs, with that information before him, to tell us that it is aninterference with Senate rights to askthe members of the Government here to maintain that obligation, is to misrepresent the whole position. The Minister says that the Government have fresh information which leads him to believe that 6d. per 100 feet is not a sufficient duty.
– Should not Ministers have the same privileges as Ministers in another place have to yield to the wish of the majority?
Sena tor MULCAHY. - The members of the Cabinet ought to be one body of men, and should adhere to a compact entered into by one oftheir number on behalf of the whole.
– They say that they are not one, but “ We are seven “ !
– One Minister agrees to a course of action, and other Ministers come here, and say that they are prepared to upset that arrangement. They do not take action themselves. Instead of that, they leave it for another honorable senator - strangely enough on this side of the chamber - to move.
– The question is not affected by the honorable senator who has submitted the request.
– The question is not affected, so far as Senator Guthrie and I are concerned, but it is affected so far as the Government is concerned. If they thought that a duty of1s. was the right duty to propose, they ought to have suggested’ it, and should not have waited for an honorable senator from this side to take action. I shall votefor the duty of 1s., as I originally intended to do, but I cannot help thinking that all the ideals of responsible government that we have held up to the present have been departed from.
– The honorable senator who has just sat down expresses grief and indignation because the Government are going to assist him in carrying out what he desires and believes in, and what he is seeking to secure.
– What the Government say is right, but why have they not the courage to propose it?
– They have too much courage for the honorable senator, and that is what he does not like. So far as com pacts are concerned, everything done b y my honorable colleague below in the name of the Government we, of course, are bound by, and would not venture to depart from without his consent, any more than he would venture to depart from’ any promise given by ma in this chamber or any undertaking entered into by me without my consent. Now, I was anxious to know exactly what was done in this matter, and I went to my colleague himself to learn whether he had entered info any compact on behalf of the Government. He assures me that nothing whateverthat took place could be construed into such a position. His position was this : The Government were anxious to secure a duty of1s. 6d. We found that we could not secure it below. My colleague was driven by the force of numbers - not by his own volition, but against his willto accept a duty of 6d.It was the best duty he could secure. If there had been a volun tary arrangement entered into by him with the other side - or with other leading representatives - undoubtedly he would have been hound by it. But my honorable friend, Senator Millen, calmly says that what he understands to be a compact is that the Government in this chamber is bound by an arrangement entered into below with the other side, but that the Opposition is to be free from that compact, although they correspond to the Opposition below, and belong to the same party. But when they set to work to challenge the position here, it is for us to say, after consultation with our colleague, whetherwe are to stand by this one-sided arrangement that is to bind us, and not to bind them. That is a remarkably nice arrangement which would suit my honorable friend opposite; but it is the class of arrangement that is not going to suit me.
– Then Cabinet solidarity counts for nothing?
-Cabinet solidarity is not impinged in the slightest degree. If my colleague said to me that he was bound by an arrangement made elsewhere, I should do nothing against that compact entered into by him on behalf of the Government. But it takes two parties to make a compact. If he had entered into that compact on behalf of the Government, and I set to work to undo it without his consent, or the consent of my colleagues, some one would have to go. If I entered into a compact here - as I do times out of number when honorable senators ask me to accept a certain arrangement or request as to a duty - and my colleague in another place without my consent repudiated that arrangement, undoubtedly he or I would have to go. So in this case I was most careful to ascertain from him whether there was any compact existing, and he assured me that there was none - that there was no voluntary arrange ment entered into by him, but that he was simply driven unwillingly “into a certain position. But 1 will point out this - that if I had agreed to accept a compact made elsewhere, and my honorable friend opposite got up, and departed -from that compact made by his party, my duty would be to at once consult my colleague, and secure from him the right to reconsider the whole position. It would be most unfair in regard to a Tariff or any other measure which came up here, for us, the representatives of the Government, to be bound hand and foot. I do put this position to honorable senators, that unless a compact is to be observed by both sides, it is quite out of the question–
– On previous items the honorable senator did not wait to know whether the compact was going to be observed on this side.
– In this case no compact was made.
– Let the Minister read Hansard for himself.
– My honorable friend has to read into Hansard that whatever was done there was done because my honorable colleague was driven into that position, and that is most obvious from the whole, tenor of the debate. We were anxious to secure the higher duty oTis. 6d., but finding that we could not secure it my colleague tells me that he simply had to accept the best rate that he could get in the circumstances. If, therefore, this Committee chooses to request an increase of the duty to is., he will gladly ask another place to reconsider the whole matter, and, he is hopeful, with some degree of success. I am. satisfied from his assurances that nothing which could . bear the appearance of a compact was entered into.
– Rub out Hansard then.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [8.28]. - I am not surprised at the vehemence which Senator Best has thrown into his vigorous attempt not to repudiate, but to deny, the existence of an arrangement made to enable, or, as the Minister of Home Affairs said, to facilitate the passage of the Tariff through another place, because he really is conjuring up a good many denials which he says rest on assurances that he has received from the Treasurer. I think that there is a great deal of force in the statement of my honorable friends on this side, that it would be equally efficacious if he had some regard for what might be called the letter of the bond. We have here a volume which we are not able’ to quote, but which conveys to our minds a convincing proof that the Treasurer, speaking for his colleagues here, declared on the floor of another place that he had consented to the duty on this item being reduced to 6d. per 100 superficial feet.
– And that was the best which he could get.
– If it was the best that the Treasurer could get, that is a conclusive reason against the Committee accepting this request. If it be carried, he will ask the members of the other House to accept a proposal’ in defiance of his own agreement to be content with a duty of 6d.
– The fact that no division was taken, and that Senator W. Russell has claimed 6d. as the best duty which the Government could get elsewhere, is proof that negotiations must have gone on previously. Otherwise it would not have been known that this 66. was the bestwhich’ they could get.
– My honorable friend knows that .that is denied.
– It has not been denied. I am sorry that I cannot quote Hansard, but if my honorable friend will only look at the volume in my hand he will see it set down in the finest English extant, and in good plain legible type, not only that the Treasurer agreed and announced his own agreement to the listening ears of the House of Representatives, but that when some of the fiercer spirits on the protectionist side complained of an arrangement having been made by him, he appealed to them in a most pathetic way to allow him to carry out the agreement which he said he had made with the leaders of the parties in the chamber. This is a very serious question indeed. It is not a mere question of whether this duty should be 6d., or whether the good offices of Senator Dobson, extended to the Government in a weak moment, shall enable it to be raised by 50 per cent.
– We have a right to rectify a mistake made by the other House.
– Yes; but the Government ought to adhere to the agreement to which it, through the Treasurer, assented there. I point out that Ministers were going to allow this request to go to a division without telling us how they intended to vote, or saying anything about this change of mind on the part of the Government. Until we asked Senator Keating to state what course the Government intended to pursue, nothing was said. My honorable friends would have quietly voted, I presume, with the ayes without uttering one syllable to explain this somersault which they are performing in defiance of the express arrangement made in another place, as shown by Hansard. “ I really feel sorry that my honorable friends on the other side should seek, for the mere sake of increasing this duty, to take advantage of a proposal which happens to have been made in a weak moment. I appeal to Ministers here to reconsider the position, because where shall we be placed with regard to other items in the same category? Are we to understand that the distinct arrangement declared by the Treasurer himself-
– And denied by him.
– No; “my honorable friend has misunderstood him. Did he go and see ‘ his colleague since this request was submitted by Senator Dobson?
– I can give my honorable friend the assurance that I specially went to see my colleague on the subject.
– Does he deny that he announced in another place that the rate- should be 6d. per 100 superficial feet?
– He denies that a compact of any kind was entered into.
– There was no division, no coercion. It was a voluntary arrangement made in exactly the same circumstances as were detailed by my honorable friend, or the Minister of Home Affairs, with regard to the asterisk.
– That is absolutely denied.
– In Hansard there is no sign of a division or a conflict, or a controversy of any kind, but it merely records an arrangement of the kind made by the Treasurer. I ask my honorable friend to consider whether, under such circumstances, it is desirable that he should support! the increase of this duty by 100 per cent. Before the dinner adjournment, I understood Senator Keating to announce that the Government were prepared to leave this duty as it’ was, and support the request prepared by Senator
Chataway, and not that they proposed to increase the duty to is. or is. 6d.
– They did not announce that.
– The representatives of the Government were distinctly asked whether they were going to support an increase of this duty, and either Senator Best or Senator Keating intimated that they were going to support Senator Chataway’s request.
– Exactly, and so we are.
– After this request has been disposed of.
Senator - Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- There was no reference of that kind made, and I can assure the Minister that a different impression was conveyed to the Committee. I think that Senator. Millen has not expressed himself too strongly as to the undesirableness of any arrangement made by the Government, or any duty accepted by them pursuant to that arrangement, being departed from here.
Question - That the House of Represen-.tatives be requested to make the duty on item 303, paragraph a, “Timber, undressed, n.e.i., 12 x 6 in.” per 100 super, feet, is. (Senator Dobson’ s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Request agreed to.
– I’ move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 303, paragraph b, by inserting after the word “Pine” the words “and Red Beech.”
My reason is that New Zealand red beech is the only wood at present available for the manufacture of bent-wood chairs in Australia. The machinery for that work has been already imported, and the manufacture of bent-wood furniture, particularly chairs similar to those imported from Austria, has actually been begun in the Commonwealth. The wood used in Austria is very similar to the piece of New Zealand red beech which I hold in my hand. This wood is very dense and close in the grain, and, unlike most other woods when sharply be/nt, it does not open in the grain. The gentleman who furnished me with this piece of timber, and with a great amount of information in connexion with it, is always willing, to my own certain knowledge, to use Australian wood if he can possibly get it. I can show, also, other pieces of Australian timber ot a very superior quality used in the manufacture of furniture. This gentleman informs me that the only other Australian timbers that in any way approach New Zealand red beech for bent work are the tallow wood, found in limited quantities in Tasmania,, and the crowfoot elm of Queensland; but neither of those is so -close in the grain or so dense. Wishing to give the bentwood chair-making industry a fair chance in the Commonwealth, I moye this request to include New Zealand red beech with New Zealand white pine under paragraph
.- The class of timber to which Senator McGregor refers has been imported in somewhat large quantities during the last few years. It is about four years since its importation commenced on anything like an appreciable scale from New Zealand, I believe it was imported in the first instance by the Australasian Marbutt Carving Company, mainly for the manufacture of picture moulding. Since then, I believe, a- considerable quantity has been brought in by a firm known as Pengelley, and used for the purpose of making bent-wood chairs. Its importation has been upon the increase, as happily has its conversion into picture moulding, bent wood chairs, and other articles of furniture, thereby giving a considerable amount of employment to Australian artisans. Itsqualities, and the circumstances under which it is grown and imported, seem r» entitle it to be treated upon the same plane as New Zealand white pine; but Senator McGregor’s request in its present form may not be sufficiently clear, because the Customs authorities state that, although the. Australasian Marbutt Carving Company ordered and imported it as red birch, it has been invoiced to them on different occasions also as red beech and silver beech. It would be desirable to use a. wider term than ;! red beech.” It would be better to make the item read, “ New Zealand Pine, Beech, or Birch,” without specifying any particular colour.
– I put that point very particularly to the gentleman who gave me this piece of wood. He has no desire that any timber other than the one specified as New Zealand red beech should coma in at this rate. There may be a- number of New Zealand timbers of the beech or birch variety which would come, in, with the wider designation suggested by the Minister, under the lower duty.. I have no desire that anything of thai: kind should take place. This paragraph also says, ,!of alT sizes.” So long as the timber is undressed, it may be sawn as small as thev like, and sent here. I have no wish to extend the paragraph to anything but New Zealand white pine and red beech. I have been told that there is a white beech, and if the Minister’s suggestion were adopted white beech, red beech, yellow beech, blue beech, or any other kind of beech could come in, and so also with birch, which might be a totally different variety of timber. The gentleman on whose authority I rely has been engaged in the importation of this and many other timbers from New Zealand, and if he is satisfied -with red beech, that description ought to be quite wide enough. I hope the Minister will not seek to make the term wider. I have intentionally used the words “red beech.” If they are agreed to, those dealing in red beech will be very particular that the timber is not specified’ as anything el.ce.
– T hope the Committee will not accept* the amendment. Only the other day we imposed what a good many people consider to be an extraordinary duty - one higher than is right - on furniture. Immediately on ton of that these people, with a protection of 7s. 6d. per chair, or 30 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty, want us to admit the timber which they use at a lower rate of duty than other timber. We have in Queensland timber for the making of furniture which is- equal to any. that can be brought “from Tasmania, New Zealand, or any other part of the world, although I do not say it is equal to the timber mentioned by Senator McGregor for bent work. We have vast areas of timber in Queensland, and up to the present nobody really knows what is in them. No white man can tell. They can only give an estimate through going round some fifty miles of country. When they see certain trees- on the outside they suppose that there are others inside. There may also be various other kinds of timber there. When those scrubs are explored and opened up a timber may be found there equal to New Zealand red beech for making bent-wood furniture. In the face of the duty which the Committee has already agreed to on furniture, it is monstrous to ask us to admit a special wood to suit some individual. I hope the Committee will reject the request. We have ash. yellow birch, and lots of other timbers that may be found, when they come to be used, equal to that which the honorable senator has brought before the Committee. We should exhaust our own timbers. I voted for an increase in the duty on timber but not to let a special kind in for the benefit of any individual. A few years -ago very little of this timber was imported. It has evidently been in New Zealand all these years, but has only lately been found suitable for bent work. We have hundreds of different kinds of timbers in Queensland which have never been tested, and if afterwards it is found that any of them are useful for this purpose, thev will immediately come into Competition with New Zealand red beech.
– I do not propose to make it free.
– A duty of 6d. per 100 superficial feet, with the timber on the seaboard ‘of New Zealand, is nothing when compared with the cost of bringing timber down from the Barron Scrub - one pf the greatest timber scrubs in Queensland 1 - to -the sea coast.
– Is not the honorable senator going to increase the duty on New Zealand white pine to is. ?
– I am not going to move it, but I will support such a request if it is moved. Would Senator McGregor support it?
– Will the ‘honorable senator support a duty of is. per 100 superficial feet on this paragraph?
– I do not’ think we should make any exception. We should not let a special kind of wood in free. After what we have already done that would hardly be fair. I hope the request will not be pressed to a division, but if it is my vote must be given against it.
– T wish to remind Senator Sayers that Senator McGregor’s request has a special merit. Bent-wood chairs, Austrian made for the most part, are to be found in use all over Australia. They are very popular, ai they are neat and light, and we have never been able to touch them, because we have not, so far, discovered any Australian wood that will stand the bending that is necessary in the manufacture of this class of furniture. There is therefore a reason for making an exception in favour of this particular class of wood, as there is for making an exception in -the case of New Zealand pine. We have a very large butter industry in Australia, and it has been found that New Zealand pine is better adapted for butter-boxes than is any wood we have iri Australia, or can import from countries other than New Zealand.
– I deny that.
– That is what has induced us to make an exception in the case of New Zealand pine. In the same way, the fact that we have so far been unable to discover in Australia a wood suitable for the manufacture of bentwood furniture is a strong reason why Senator McGregor’s request should be agreed to.
– I think that’ the Tasmanian myrtle is as good a wood as the New Zealand red beech.
– Possibly it is, and the gentleman to whom reference has been made must think highly of it since he mentions it. The man who recommends the request which Senator McGregor has submitted has a remarkably up-to-date establishment in Adelaide. I met him, and he declared to me that, for the manufacture of furniture, Queensland can produce” woods superior to any to be found in any other part of the world. He is backing his opinion by using Queensland woods in the manufacture of the highest class of furniture.
– We have used them in Queensland for years. -Senator TRENWITH .-I wish to say that the proprietor of the furniture factory to which I refer is not a man who is looking for imported woods. He wants Australian woods, and he is using them as largely as possible, but up to the present he has not been able to obtain an Australian timber from which bent-wood chairs can be manufactured. This means., so far as he is concerned, not that he will import wood suitable for the purpose, but that he will not make - bent-wood chairs, and that in my opinion is a strong reason for special consideration in respect of this New Zealand red beech.
– Senator McGregor wishes to include in this paragraph another New Zealand timber, but before we decide to do that I think we should consider whether it would not be well to admit New Zealand pine in certain sizes for the manufacture of butterboxes free of duty. I understand that for this purpose New Zealand pine from 12 to 14 inches in width, and £ of an inch thick is used, and these sizes, I think, should be admitted free. It appears .that New Zealand pine has certain qualities which make it particularly suitable for this purpose, inasmuch as it gives no flavour to the butter.
– Nor. does Queensland pine, and Queensland butter packed in boxes made of Queensland pine is fetching the highest price in the London market to-day.
– The difficulty is that at the present time those dealing in Queensland pine cannot supply the market, and it must be supplied, because the butter must be shipped. Possibly Senator Chataway will be able to bring about the exclusive use of Queensland pine in the manufacture of butter-boxes, when under the request he has suggested it becomes possible to show that circumstances warrant the imposition of a duty on New Zealand pine. I should like to remind honorable senators that, although we are advocating that certain New Zealand timbers should be admitted free, we should not forget that New Zealand does not admit Australian timbers free.
– They would be foolish to do so, having suitable timbers of their own.
– I am not so sure of that. .
– Unless they derived some reciprocal advantages.
– I know that if Tasmanian timber is sent to New Zealand, it must pay an impost of 2 s. per 100 superficial feet, equivalent to 30 per cent, ad valorem, before it can be landed. I am satisfied that Ave should do all we can to encourage the development of the butter export, and for that purpose I should be glad to see New Zealand pine in certain sizes admitted free. Beyond that point, where imported timbers come into competition with local timbers, a very large question is opened up, and I doubt whether we are justified, on the information supplied by Senator McGregor, in allowing New Zealand red beech to come in free. There are very large beech forests in Victoria.
– It is a very different wood.
– The Queensland Crowsfoot elm is one of the finest timbers for bent-wood furniture to be found in any part of the world.
– I have seen samples of Australian timber remarkably like the sample of New Zealand red beech which has been exhibited. I have seen this timber exhibited in the Queen’s Hall, as a production of Victorian forests. I have seen also in Tasmanian trophies magnificent specimens of Tasmanian myrtle, which I believe is really a beech ; but I am sorry to say that it has been greatly neglected, although efforts have been made from time to time to bring its qualities under notice. It is capable of receiving a high polish, and seems to possess all the qualities claimed for the New Zealand red beech. In the circumstances, I think the Committee should pause before accepting Senator McGregor’s request.. I intend to move after it has been dealt Avith -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 303, paragraph B, by inserting after the word “ undressed “ the words “ sizes 12 inches and 14 inches width by f of an inch thick.”
Request agreed to.
– With the intention of subsequently proposing that New Zealand pine in certain sizes should be admitted free for the manufacture of butter-boxes, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 303, paragraphb, per 100 super. feet,1s.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Request agreed to.
Request (by Senator Mulcahy) proposed -
That the Houseof Representatives be requested to further amend item 303 by inserting the following new paragraph : - “ (bb). New Zealand Pine, undressed, for butter boxes; sizes 12 and 14 inches in width by¾ inch thick - free.”
– I hope that Senator Mulcahy will not pursue this request. The practice which prevails in the Customs Department in relation to New Zealand pine that has been imported for butter-boxes, is to allow rebates. When the pine has been manufactured into butter boxes for export, an arrangement is made that the whole of the duty paid is refunded.
– Do I understand that after the butter is packed the makers of the boxes get a rebate?
– Then I desire to withdraw the request.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 303 by inserting the following new paragraph : - “ (bi). To come into operation on date to be fixed by Proclamation, and in the meantime subject to duty as specified in item 303 (a) and (b) above. Proclamation to issue as soon as it is certified to Parliament by the Minister that similar timber fitted for the requirements of local industries can be produced in the Commonwealth in sufficient quantity to supply the demands of such industries, but no such Proclamation to issue except in pursuance of a Joint Address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of Parliament stating that such production is sufficient for the purposes required.
Timber, viz. : - “ (a) Timber, undressed, n.e.i. in sizes of 12 inches by 6 inches (or its equivalent) and over, per 100 super. feet, 1s. 6d. “ (b) New Zealand Pine and Red Beech, un dressed, of all sizes, per 100 super. feet,1s. 6d.”
The reason for this request is not to secure an immediate increase in duty. I am moving it because I think that, in view of the enormous importance to Australia - not to any particular State - of developing a real forestry system and timber business throughout the Commonwealth, some such provision in the Tariff is essential. Australia offers the most marvellous possibilities in the way of the development of its timber resources. I do not mean that we should, with the axe and with fire, denude our lands as we are doing now, of our timber, but that we should bring our forests under close supervision and attention through the instrumentalities of the various States Governments. I shall not weary the Committee with a long speech on a subject to which I have ‘ devoted a great deal of attention, and in which I am very much interested, namely, that of afforestation. But I will point out that in such countries as India, Germany and Norway Governments have taken a strong hand in the business of not only developing their timber resources but also in controlling the harvesting of those resources, and putting them upon the market. When we ask for this additional duty to be imposed, we shall certainly give Parliament an opportunity of discussing the whole question, as Parliament ought to do. before duties are finally adopted. It will, I think, be obvious to any honorable senator that it is impossible to make the States Governments of Australia - all of which, I think, are blameworthy in the matter of the neglect which they have shown in the past - take up the matter of afforestation with the view of looking after their timber resources properly, until there is a real timber trade, and an inducement for people to go into the forests, cut timbers, and bring them to market. We admit that at the present time there is a shortage of timber. Even Queensland has not only a considerable difficulty in supplying the demand, but there is a positive inability to meet the requirements of other parts of Australia. Therefore, no attempt is now made to raise the duty to an amount like is. 6d. per 100 feet until Parliament can be satisfied that the wants of the various industries of Australia can be supplied. That Queensland - I am not in a position to speak for the other States - is “really doing her best in the matter, is, I think, fairly well known to honorable senators. But she has only just woke up to her duty. That is shown to .Tome* extent by the fact that last week, in the Queensland Parliament, three railways were agreed to by the Legislative Assembly, involving an expenditure of something like -^”450,000, these three lines being designed - other railways were also agreed to, but I am not referring to them - to run into timber districts and make available the large forest resources of that State. Further than that, Queensland now has a ForestryDepartment, and though it has started in a mild sort of way, still, it has made some progress, and I have every reason to believe that, with the prospect in front of her of developing a profitable trade, such as is held out under such a proposal as this, Queensland will make her Forestry Department one of the finest in the Commonwealth, and one of the most productive and useful. I will not weary honorable senators with quantities of figures, but I should like to point out to them that during the last twenty years Queensland has cut out 2,000,000,000 feet of timber, and at the present time she is holding as timber reserves no less an. area than 3,500,000 acres of land. I am not talking about firewood reserves, but timber reserves, held under Crown supervision, to prevent the lands being denuded and the forests wiped out by the ordinary careless way of chopping down timber to put it on. the market. With such an area as that, which, as honorable senators will admit, is considerable, there is a possibility of Queensland developing an enormous business. The time will come, and is rapidly coming in various parts of “the world, when many countries will have run out of their timber resources. Australia is only in her infancy, and we have enormous areas of land in this country which can be used for such purposes. It is the duty of this Parliament, even if we do not see our way - as I do not think we do at present - to put a considerable duty on timber, at any rate to say to the people : “If you go into the forestry business in a proper manner, developing your resources and proving to the Federal Parliament that you are really utilizing them to the best advantage, we are prepared to give you substantial protection to enable you to carry on your business profitably.” In moving this request, I am at liberty to say that I am acting in full consultation with my colleagues from Queensland, and also in consultation with the various Departments Connected with forestry there. 1 believe that the opinions expressed by the. officials connected with forestry in my State are those which are largely held by similar officials in the other States. When this schedule goes before another place, I hope that it will be recognised that the object of the request is not to raise duties immediately, - but to secure the establishment of the forestry business in Australia on a firm, sound, and lasting basis.
– I think the form in which the request is put to the Committee is one with which no reasonable senator could very well disagree. If there is any industry in the Commonwealth that is likely to be stimulated to a greater degree of activity and to a greater output by the hope of an increased duty, it is the timber industry. There is not one of the States which has not large timber resources, and when those who are instrumental in developing those resources see before them the possibility of obtaining increased protection, they will, I believe, be moved to take steps in a very desirable direction. I hope that an enormous impetus will be” given to the industry as a result of our action. I trust that honorable senators will agree to the request, and that another place will see its way to accept it.
– The Minister is. going a little bit too far and too fast in assuming that no honorable senator can dissent from the request now proposed.
– I said “ no reasonable senator.”
– I can and do object to the request, and I think I am one of the most reasonable senators, in comparison to those who are going baldheaded for all sorts of duties. I deeply regret the plunge which honorable senators seem to be. making in all directions for bigger duties. I shall not weary the Committee with a statement as to why this additional duly should not be imposed, but I feel that it is a step in the wrong direction. It is calculated to deaden people’s activities, and to make them rely upon the State to do that which they ought to do for themselves.
Question put. The Committee, divided. Ayes ….. 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Request agreed to.
– I desire to move in an altered form the request of which I have given notice. In its wisdom the Committee has decided in favour of a duty of is. per 100 superficial feet on undressed timber, and it would be going back upon that decision if I were to move a request that any particular class of undressed timber should be made free. I intend to observe the decision of the Committee in that respect, and therefore I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 303, paragraph n, by leaving out the words “ including door stocks” and inserting the following new paragraph : - “(m). Timber undressed, in sizes less than 7ft. 6 in, by 10 in. by 2^ in., for door stocks, per 100 super, feet, is.”
This request has relation to the raw material for making doors. If honorable senators will refer to the old Tariff, they will find that the present duty of 2s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet represents an. increase of is. on the old duty. I draw particular attention to the fact “that while this Tariff makes no alteration in the duty on doors, it imposes an additional duty of is. per 100 superficial feet on the undressed raw material of which they are made.
– Yes, but other things besides doors are made from this material.–
– No. If my honorable friend will read my printed request, he will see that it applies to only the material out of which doors are made. Under the old Tariff Australia was rapidly capturing the market for the manufacture of doors. According to the comparative statement wHich has been circulated, in 1906 we imported 3,017 doors, whereas during the first year of Federation the number imported was nearer 30,000. The old duty was practically effective in securing to our doormakers the control of the- door market. Why should w:e increase the duty on the raw material, and so practically begin to whittle away what has been gained?
– Have we not got the raw material for making doors?
– No. I propose the imposition of a lesser duty on the raw material, because I contend that this duty should be brought into line with the duties under paragraphs a and b. If honorable senators, particularly my protectionist friends, will turn to the report of the A section of the Tariff Commission, they will find that almost every witness recommended that this line should be made free. The sizes which I have indicated, of course, limit the operation of the duty to door stocks only. Door stocks are imported undressed and cut into these sizes. Being so cut, they can be conveniently stowed in a ship’ in which other timber is carried. If an inquiry- is made, it will be elicited that this timber is used’ exclusively by door manufacturers in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart, and Brisbane, and that there is only one manufacturer - -a man in Maryborough - who uses some -Queensland timber.
– All Queensland timber.
– With that solitary exception, our door manufacturers use the imported sugar and clear pines and red woods of America, which are brought in as door stocks, distinct from other classes of timber. They are dressed here, and the doors are made up by machinery. It is the manufacturers in Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide who are practically responsible for capturing the local” market. It is asserted that Queensland has a timber which is suitable for door making. That it is used in Maryborough, I am prepared to admit. But I ask honorable senators to take into consideration the higher freights that Tule round the Australian coast. If they exclude the Adelaide manufacturer, the Melbourne manufacturer, and, to a lesser extent, the Sydney manufacturer, from the use of imported door stocks, they will not compel him to use Queensland pine, but place him at a disadvantage as compared with the American manufacturer of doors. The margin of success to the Australian door maker, as compared with the American door maker, is very narrow indeed, and if my honorable friends decrease that margin by increasing the price of the raw material with the idea that they will compel the former to use Queensland pine, they will make a very great mistake. All that they will succeed in doing will be to force him back to where he was before the Federal Tariff came into operation, and that is to make him unable to compete with the American door. It should always be kept in mind that that is the cheapest made door on earth. It has always been imported into Australia in very large numbers - upwards of 30,000 in one year - and anything which my honorable friends do to penalize the door industry will restore that importation of doors, and will not lead to the use of Queensland pine. If they increase the price of American pine, then, owing to the high freights which are charged on Queensland pine, the Australian manufacturer in Melbourne or Adelaide, whether he uses Queensland or American pine, will have the price of his raw material increased.
– To which high freights does the honorable senator refer?
– To the freights around the Australian coast, which have been quoted so recently by Senators Turley and Chataway. They point out that the freight from Queensland is almost equivalent to that from America.
– The honorable senator’s assertion as to American doors is a reason why the duty should remain, because the American industry was built up by a protective policy.
– I do not propose to support any decrease in the duty on doors, but, as regards the duty on door stocks, America always had her door stocks free, because she produces the timber as no other country in the world does.
– We have the timber in Queensland.
– There is no timber there to compare with the American sugarpine. A door made from Queensland pine was exhibited at the Australian Natives’ Association Exhibition in Melbourne recently. I took particular notice of it.
– That was made of hoop pine.
– That timber was not equal to the American timber for making doors, because it was not as light. The advantage of the American pine is that it is so light that the door, when made, does not pull itself to pieces by its own weight. That is the disadvantage of all hardwoods.
– Pine is not a hardwood.
– Compared with the clear pine and sugar pine of America, the Queensland pine is a hardwood, although, of course, it is not so as compared with jarrah or stringy-bark. I am asking the Committee only to impose a duty which is consonant with that already agreed to upon undressed timber. My request deals with undressed timber which will have to be dressed here. The doors will have to be made here. The duties as they now appear in the schedule would penalize the door manufacturers of Australia, and probably lead to the recommencement of the importation of American made doors.
– I regret that I have to oppose Senator Pearce’s request, because I understand from his own statement that he is going to be a good, sound protectionist so far as doors are concerned.
– I have been a good protectionist all through on many otherthings.
– I give the honorable senator credit for that, but the Tariff Commission took a good deal of evidence from people interested in different directions with respect to a duty on door stocks, and always found that a door manufacturer in the southern States was in favour of free door stocks. That is the case of a great many manufacturers in the southern States, who are sound, solid protectionists, and almost prohibitionists, with respect to their own finished articles, but want free everything which they handle. In the timber duties from beginning to end we are endeavouring to make it possible that all the timber imported into Australia will be imported in the larger sizes. The duties as arranged are intended to discourage the breaking up of the timber in foreign countries. Probably Senator Pearce’s statement that most of our Australian timbers are too heavy for the making of doors is correct, but those who have seen the doors made at Maryborough, Queensland, must acknowledge that they are of excellent quality, nor is their weight excessive, considering the fine quality of the wood. The Queensland manufacturers do not want free door stocks, because the timber is cut up in that State from the log, and many short lengths are left suitable for door-making, just as is the case in America. Those are the conditions that exist in every country where timber is broken up from the log. What Senator Pearce says with respect to the stowage of timber on shipboard is quite true. The smaller sizes are very convenient for filling spaces that otherwise would be empty, and consequently can be brought here at very low rates. If we import all our timbers in the larger sizes there must be left over from the breaking up short lengths that will have to be used. If the Americans have the privilege of using up their small stuff for the manufacture of doors, why should not the Australian saw-miller, when charged duty on the smaller sizes that come in, and getting the larger sizes at a much lower rate -if he imports timber at all - have some direction in which he can use the smaller sizes? That is how the manufacture of doors and similar articles can be encouraged here. Senator Pearce says that the imposition of the higher duty will handicap the Australian door-maker. But I have shown that in the breaking up of Australian timber and of large sizes of imported timber, small sizes will be left over to be dealt with in our own sawmills. The duty on finished doors is not to be altered. The Tariff Commission considered that the rate they recommended was fair as compared with the duty which they recommended on door stocks. If we were arguing that the manufacturer of doors had to compete with the manufacturer of a similar article in America or Canada, Senator Pearce would be the first to declare that we could have nothing to complain of because just as high wages are paid in America as in Australia. I therefore cannot see that there is much weight in his argument with respect to the duty on, finished doors, which I hope will be left, when we reach it, as it stands in the schedule. If that is done we shall be perfectly safe in leaving the duty on door stocks as it stands in this paragraph.
– In paragraphc, it is proposed to place a duty of 2s. per 100superficial feet on timber undressed, in sizes of 7 inches by 2½ inches, and upwards, and not exceeding 12 inches by 6 inches. But now Senator Pearce proposes the low duty of1s. per 100 superficial feet, on timber undressed 7 feet 6 inches, by 10 inches, by2½ inches, if brought in for door stocks. Obviously, the result of those two duties, if the request were agreed to, would be to encourage the cutting down of the timber outside the Commonwealth. Timber which might be suitable for the manufacture of doors, would come in under paragraph c at 2s. per 100 feet, whilst the same timber, having undergone more preparation and more cutting, would come in under the honorable senator’s request at half that rate, which would simply promote the doing of the work outside instead of inside the Commonwealth.
– Senator Pearce seems to be afraid that a handicap is about to be placed on those who are making doors. But there is another way out of the difficulty. Instead of reducing the duty on the door stocks, the honorable senator could move to increase the duty on the manufactured article. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission state that the following duties on doors were suggested by the representatives of the Federated Sawmill, Timber Yard, and Wood Workers Employés’ Association -
Doors of wood,1¾ inches thick and over (each), 10s. ;1½ inches and under1¾ inches, 7s. 6d. ; 1½ inches and under, 5s.
– And they wanted the door stocks free.
– Undoubtedly, but in almost every industry people who ask for protection for themselves demand that anything which comes from outside, and which they use as their raw material, should be free. That, however, is not the policy of the Government, or the object which this Committee has in view. I am prepared to support Senator Pearce if he proposes to increase the duty on the completed doors, and leave the rate on door stocks as in the schedule. ; Senator PEARCE .(Western Australia) [9.56]. - Both Senators McGregor and Keating had but one objection to my proposal - that they desired to encourage the importing of the large-sized timber and its cutting up here. So do the Federated Saw Mill employes. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission state on page 350 of their report -
In South Australia, the witness who gave evidence represented the South Australian branch of the Federated Sawmill, Timber Yard and Woodworkers Employes Association. He asked for the remission of duties on the larger sizes of timber, with heavier duties on the smaller sizes.
They, like Senator McGregor, want the Larger sizes to be imported- and the cutting up to be clone here -
The object of his Association was to encourage the importation of timber in large sizes, and at the same time discourage importations in small sizes.
That is exactly what the Minister and Senator McGregor say. Now let us see what they recommended in respect to door stocks! At page 349 of the report, I find this-
The following table shows the alterations in the present Tariff as suggested by the Adelaide branch of the Federated Sawmill, Timber Yard and Woodworkers Employes Association on timber, doors, &c, and the comparison therewith with the present duly. ‘
Then, under paragraph l of the table, I fmd that the existing duty was 20 per cent., and that they recommended that door stocks should be free. So that the members of this association were, in entire accord with Senator McGregor and the Minister as Co the desirability of having the timber cut up in the Commonwealth. lt is clear that they were most interested in the question. They’ knew that under their recommendation instead of doors being imported ready-made, door stocks Would come in in the rough, as 1 ask, and they would have the- dressing of them, whereas if the present proposal is carried out, we shall have a return to the old practice of importing doors ready-made.
– Why not raise the duty on doors?
– Because the duty on doors is already high enough. The price of an imported door in bond is less than 1 os., and the duty is 7 s. 6d. That should surely be high enough. I do not propose to argue the matter further, but I appeal to honorable senators not to dis turb the existing position. We have stopped the importation of doors, and why should not that position be permitted to continue when no injustice is done, to any one, and when work is conserved for Australian workmen? Every protectionist member of the Committee should vote for the request .1 have submitted.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 303, paragraph d, by leaving out the words “ including door stocks,” and inserting the following new paragraph : - “(di). Timber, undressed, in sizes less than 7 ft. 6 in,, by 10 in. by 2^ in. for door stocks, per 100 super, feet, is.” (Senator Pearce’ s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Request negatived.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 303, paragraph d, by leaving out the words “including door stocks” and inserting the following new paragraph “(m). Timber, undressed, in sizes less than’ 7 ft. 6 in. by io in. by 25 .in. for door stocks, per 100 super, feet, is. 6d.”
I point out ‘that honorable senators who oppose the request are really -penalizing the whole of the other States in the manufac- hire of doors for the benefit of Queensland. I do not know whether they intend to do that
– It is Queensland the honorable senator is aiming at.
– For the benefit of Queensland and the United States of America,. I appeal especially to members of the Labour Party to say whether they think the saw-mill employes of Adelaide would have made the representations they have made if they did not think they would be in their interests. These representations have been made without a. single dissentient voice by the Adelaide and Victorian saw-mill employes. Thev have asked that these door ‘stocks should be admitted duty free.
– At the same time they asked for an increase of 20 per cent, on doors.
– I am not asking for an increase of the duty on doors, but I see no justification for increasing the duty on a raw material beyond what it was under the old Tariff.
– I intend to support the old duty, and I shall give a few brief reasons for doing so. When in Queensland about two years ago, I visited in Maryborough the principal Queensland factory for the manufacture of doors and window sashes. I was informed by the manager that he was so busy that he could scarcely supply the orders he received from Melbourne and Sydney. He admitted that Federation had done his particular industry a great deal of good, and that he was as busy as he could possibly be. I take it that he knew his awn business, and, in the circumstances, I see no reason for increasing the amount of protection afforded to his industry beyond that provided for in the old Tariff.
– That was two .years ago, and all sorts of things have happened in that time.
– If it hf.d been two weeks ago we should have had a reference to something that happened two years ago. As I am referring to a: condition of affairs that existed two years ago, after we hf.d had some experience of the operation of the old Tariff, my remarks do not suit the Himalayan protectionist who has just interjected. I wish also to say that, notwithstanding the brisk trade this Mary borough factory was doing, the wages paid in the industry were simply disgraceful. I saw lads working in the factory for 6s. per week. I asked grown-up men whom I found working mortising machines what wages they were paid, and they informed me that they were getting 14s. per week. The highest paid man I could fi/nd working in the yard outside received the magnificent wage of 5s. per day. These were the wages paid when the work of the factory was so brisk that they could not supply all the orders received.
– Where does the new protection come in?
– We have yet to learn ; but in the meantime it is clean- that this industry was sufficiently protected under the old Tariff, and I am not prepared rb increase the ‘protection afforded to an industry that is so overwhelmed with orders that it is unable to supply the local demand.
– Honorable senators will see from one of the clauses of the Bill that a South African preference is continued in force. I should like to direct attention- to the fact that an arrangement with South Africa exists at this moment, whereby the goods on which Senator Pearce is willing to impose a duty of is. 6d. can be imparted from South Africa under a duty of is. 6d., less 25 per cent., or, in other words, under a duty of is. 1 1/2 d. Why should we admit these goods under a duty of is. 1 1/2 d. if imported from South Africa, and impose a duty of 2s. 6d. as proposed in the schedule if thev ;-.re imported from other parts of the world ? If South Africa is able to supply these door stocks at the duty named, we should not charge a higher duty on imports from any other part of the world. On the other hand, if South Africa is not able to supply these goods at all, the South African preference is a bogus preference. I should like the Minister to inform the Committee why, if South Africa can supply these goods, exporters of them from other countries should be called upon to pay twice the duty imposed on imports from South Africa; and why, if South Africa cannot supply the goods, such a bogus piece of preference should be continued in existence.
– Senator de Largie has intimated his in- tention .of voting against the duty proposed in the schedule, and in favour of the duty under the 1902 Tariff ; and he gives as a reason that when he paid a visit to Queens’land he inspected a factory, and satisfied himself that at that time, although the factory was kept going from morning till night, those working for the proprietor were in receipt of sweating wages. If there is one thing that would move me to vote for increased duties, it is the possibility of the application of the principle of the new protection to such an industry. Moreover, the facts to which the honorable senator referred were supplied to him two years ago. Much may have happened in the meantime. The Queensland senators tell us that the number of employes in the industry has increased, and that the conditions are now very much better. In addition to that, there is now in power in Queensland a Government which, while it is not a Labour Government, is being supported by the Labour Party. That Government has promised to introduce legislation on the lines df the Victorian Factories Act, under which the condition of the workers will be improved. It is hoped that that legislation will be in operation in a short time. The very fact that the factory to which Senator de Largie has referred was going full steam ahead two years ago is evidence that there was a demand for its material in Melbourne and Sydney. It does not matter to me where an industry is established. I am prepared to support it, in accordance with protectionist principles. I believe that the increased duty proposed is justified. I believe that it will give an impetus to an established industry; and if the working conditions are not as Senator de Largie and I would like them to be, there is a greater prospect of their improvement under a higher duty.
.- I quite admit that the statements made by Senator de Largie are correct as applied to conditions when He was in Queensland. The wages were very low, and I do not know that they are much better yet. Unfair wages are paid in the timber industry all through. But that is no reason why those unfortunate conditions should not be changed. There is at present no legislation dealing with industries in Queensland, except that employers cannot pay less than half-a-crown a week. But labour legislation has been introduced, and will, I believe, pass into law, because the last elections in Queensland were un-‘ doubtedly indicative of a desire of the people for industrial legislation. If it has succeeded in New South Wales and Victoria in raising wages to something like 50 per cent, higher than were ruling previously, it seems to me that the establishment of Wages Boards in Queensland will have a similar result there.
– Could not the employers pay a decent rate of wage under the present rate of duty?
– Yes, they could, because their business has increased wonderfully. But the idea of the employers is to get their material as cheaply as possible. Labour is practically part of the material which they want, and the; try to get it as cheaply as they can. There are very few employers who, unless they are absolutely compelled, will pay good wages for .labour. That is practically the reason for the existence of the Labour Party. The fact that employers reckon labour as a commodity, just like other material, brought the Labour Party into existence as a protest. The industry in question is one that can very well be carried on in Queensland. Timber is exported from that State in the log. A great deal of it is available for making these door stocks. I think that a good case has been made out for an increased measure of protection, and that the Queensland workmen have good cause for asking that they should be put upon the same level as workmen employed in similar industries in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia.
– I asked the members of the Government a little while ago to give us some explanation as to why such a high duty as 2s. 6d. per 100 feet should be asked for when, under a treaty with South Africa, timber is allowed to be imported from that country at the old duty of is. 6d., less 25 per cent. - or only is. 1 1/2 d. I wish the representatives of the Government to make a statement on the point, and to” let us know why duties more than double should be charged to other countries than are charged to South Africa ; or whether the reason is that the preference is simply a bogus preference?
– My honorable friend,- Senator Pulsford, is extremely anxious on the subject of the advantage of a preference to South Africa. That is a matter that concerns South
Africa, which asked for the preference. But this I know - that the main importations of door stocks come from America, and the object of this duty is to benefit our own people, and to limit the importations.
– I propose to support Senator Pearce’s request, because it- is not proposed to increase the duty on finished doors. If the Government were prepared to support a request for an increased duty on .the finished door, I should vote for it. But it is most unfair to submit a proposal in this form. Australian door-makers, under the old Tariff, were just able to compete against the American finished article. To increase the cost of what is practically their raw material without raising the duty on the finished article would certainly have the effect of causing Boors to be imported from America. Queensland timber .is fit for doors, but not so suitable as the American timber, and will not be used in the southern States. The people of Queensland, although they have the ‘ timber; have not the enterprise to develop their industry. There is plenty of evidence in the Tariff Commission’s report to show, moreover, that Queensland timber is not so suitable as is American timber. I am delighted with the enthusiasm displayed by the Queensland senators regarding this industry. On previous.’ questions they have been divided. This unanimity is delightful. But my main reason for voting against the increased duty is that the finished article is to be charged the old rate of duty. Therefore, I trust th’at Senator Pearce’s request will be agreed to.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested, to further amend item 303, paragraph d, “Timber,” by leaving out the words “.including door stocks,” and inserting the following new paragraph: - “ (di)- Timber, undressed, in sizes less -than 7 ft. 6 in. by 10 inches by i inches, for door stocks, per 100 super, feet, is. 6d.” (Senator Pearce’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative. Request negatived.
Request (by Senator Pearce) put -
That the. House of Representatives be requested to further amend item 303, paragraph o, by leaving out the words “including door-stocks” and inserting the following new paragraph : - “ni. Timber, undressed, in sizes less than 7 ft 6 in. x 10 in. x 2^ in., for door-stocks, per 100 super, feet, 2s.”
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Request agreed to. Progress reported.
– In moving -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I desire to mention that to-morrow, as on Wednesday last, the sitting will be suspended from 12.45 p-m. to 3- p.m. in order to allow honorable senators to attend elsewhere.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 March 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080324_senate_3_44/>.